In Colorado, the unauthorized possession or use of a credit card is a criminal offense. Credit card fraud in Colorado can result in petty offense, misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the amount of fraud involved and the type of credit card fraud.
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is credit card fraud in Colorado?
- 2. What are the penalties?
- 3. What are the best defenses to credit card fraud?
- 4. Related Offenses
Credit card fraud involves attempting to defraud a seller, credit card holder, or credit card company through the unauthorized use of a credit card. This involves fraudulently obtaining a credit card in someone else’s name, using a stolen credit card, or even possession of a lost or mistakenly delivered credit card. Credit card fraud generally falls under a number of Colorado criminal statutes, including:
- Criminal Possession of a Financial Device C.R.S. 18-5-903
- Unauthorized Use of a Financial Device C.R.S. 18-5-702
- Purchase on Credit to Defraud C.R.S. 18-5-207
- Identity Theft C.R.S. 18-5-902
A credit card is considered a “financial device” under Colorado law. A financial device means, “any instrument or device that can be used to obtain cash, credit, property, services, or any other thing of value or to make financial payments,” including credit or debit cards.1
A person commits criminal possession of a financial device if he or she has any financial device in their possession they reasonably should know is lost, stolen, or delivered by mistake. This means, if you find a lost credit card or another person’s credit card is mistakenly delivered to your address and you keep the card, you may be in criminal possession of a financial device.
To avoid possible criminal charges if you find a credit card, you may wish to contact the bank provider listed on the card to report it found or turn in the card at the location it was found.
Using another person’s credit card or debit card is unauthorized use of a financial device. A person commits unauthorized use of a financial device if, with the intent to defraud, he or she uses a credit card or debit card to obtain cash, credit, property, services, or to make a financial payment. This includes using an expired or canceled card, or using a card without authorization.
Criminal possession of one financial device is a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 120 days in jail and/or up to $750 in fines.2
Criminal possession of two or more financial devices is a class 6 felony, punishable by 12 to 18 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000. There is also a mandatory parole period of 1 year.3
The penalties for unauthorized credit card fraud depend on the value of the fraud involved.
|Value of Credit Card Fraud||Class of Criminal Offense||Penalties|
|Less than $300||Petty Offense||Up to 10 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $300|
|$300 or more but less than $1,000||Class 2 Misdemeanor||Up to 120 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750|
|$1,000 or more but less than $2,000||Class 1 Misdemeanor||Up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000|
|$2,000 or more but less than $5,000||Class 6 Felony||12 to 18 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $100,000|
|$5,000 or more but less than $20,000||Class 5 Felony||1 to 3 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000|
|$20,000 or more but less than $100,000||Class 4 Felony||2 to 6 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000|
|$100,000 or more but less than $1 million||Class 3 Felony||4 to 12 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $750,000|
|$1 million or more||Class 2 Felony||8 to 24 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000,000|
If an individual is involved in two or more incidents of credit card fraud within a 6-month period, the value of the fraud will be combined and charged as a single offense.5
If you are facing criminal credit card fraud charges, you may have a number of legal defenses available. The prosecutor may be required to show the defendant had both the knowledge of criminal activity AND criminal intent. This allows a number of defenses to be drawn, some of which include:
- You had permission to use the credit card;
- You have legal authority to possess the financial or personal information;
- You did not realize you were in possession of a lost or stolen card;
- You did not intend to defraud anyone; or
- You were trying to return a lost credit card you found.
Credit card fraud may involve other related offenses, including identity theft, purchase on credit to defraud, and larceny charges. If credit card fraud involved using another person’s identity, it may be considered identity theft. Credit card fraud may also involve general theft, fraud, or larceny charges.
In Colorado, it is a criminal offense to use another person’s personal or financial identifying information to obtain anything of value. This includes using another person’s identity to commit credit card fraud. Identity theft can be a felony or a misdemeanor.
4.2. Theft/Larceny C.R.S. 18-4-401
Theft, or larceny, involves using someone else’s property in a manner that deprives the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the property. Writing bad credit cards to obtain things of value may be considered a type of theft. The punishment for theft is based on the value of the property stolen.
A person who purchases any personal property on credit, and before paying for it, sells or disposes of the property with the intent to defraud commits a class 2 misdemeanor. Purchase on credit to defraud per CRS 18-5-207 is punishable by up to 120 days in jail and/or up to $750.
Call us for help…
If you have been accused of credit card fraud, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with criminal fraud offenses. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today.
Arrested in California? Go to our article on California credit card fraud law.
Arrested in Nevada? Go to our article on Nevada credit card fraud law.
- C.R.S. 18-5-901(6)
- C.R.S. 18-5-903(2)(a). Prior to March 1, 2022, criminal possession of a credit card or debit card was a class 1 misdemeanor carrying 6 to 18 months in jail and a fine of $500 to $5,000. SB21-271.
- C.R.S. 18-5-903(2)(b)
- C.R.S. 18-5-903(2)(c)
- C.R.S. 18-5-702(3). Prior to March 1, 2022, credit card fraud of less than $50 was a class 1 petty offense carrying up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500; credit card fraud of $50 to less than $300 was a class 3 Misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $750; credit card fraud of $300 or more but less than $750 was a class 2 misdemeanor carrying 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000; credit card fraud of $750 or more but less than $2,000 was a class 1 misdemeanor carrying 6 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. SB21-271.