Penal Code 484h PC - Retailer Credit Card Fraud

Penal Code 484h PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a retailer to commit credit card fraud.

In particular, the statute states:

“Every retailer or other person who, with intent to defraud:

(a) Furnishes money, goods, services or anything else of value upon presentation of an access card obtained or retained in violation of Section 484e or an access card which he or she knows is a counterfeit access card or is forged, expired, or revoked, and who receives any payment therefor, is guilty of theft.

(b) Presents for payment a sales slip or other evidence of an access card transaction, and receives payment therefor, without furnishing in the transaction money, goods, services, or anything else of value that is equal in value to the amount of the sales slip or other evidence of an access card transaction, is guilty of theft.

This code section is one of several credit card fraud laws in California.

Examples of illegal acts under this statute are:

  • John owns a rug company, alters a credit card, and uses it “to purchase” several rugs from the store.
  • Sophia works at a department store and rings up several sweaters for a friend, even though she knows the friend is paying with a counterfeit debit card.
  • Xavier runs a bicycle shop and sells several bikes to his neighbor who pays with an expired credit card.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a defendant can raise if accused under PC 484h. These include showing that the defendant:

  • was not a retailer,
  • did not act with an intent to defraud, and/or
  • was falsely accused.

Penalties

If a retailer commits credit card fraud, and it receives more than $950 in a consecutive six-month period, then the retailer will be charged with grand theft, per Penal Code 487. This crime is a wobbler offense under California law, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. And, the crime can lead to imprisonment in the California state prison for up to three years.

If a retailer violates PC 484h, and it receives less than $950 in a consecutive six-month period, then the retailer will be charged with petty theft, per Penal Code 484 and 488. This crime is charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

retail credit card fraud
Penal Code 484h PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a retailer to commit credit card fraud.

1. What is the legal definition of retailer credit card fraud under Penal Code 484h?

Penal Code 484h PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a retailer to commit credit card fraud.

A retailer violates this code section when it:

  1. furnishes money, goods, services or anything else of value to someone that presents a credit or debit card that the retailer knows is stolen, counterfeit, forged, expired or revoked, or
  2. presents evidence of a credit or debit card transaction in order to receive payment when the retailer knowingly fails to provide money, goods, services or anything else of value.1

Please note that a defendant retailer must have acted with the “intent to defraud” to be guilty under this statute.2 To “defraud” or to do something “fraudulently” means to try and trick someone or to persuade them by dishonest means.

2. Are there legal defenses to PC 484h violations?

A person can try to challenge a Penal Code 484h accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense may work to reduce or even dismiss a charge.

Three common defenses to PC 484h charges include:

  1. no retailer,
  2. no intent to defraud, and/or
  3. falsely accused.

2.1. No Retailer

Please recall that a defendant can only be accused of a crime under this statute if it is a “retailer,” or a person or business that sells goods to the public. Therefore, it is always a valid legal defense for an accused to show that he was not acting as a retailer when charged with a crime.

2.2. No intent to defraud

Please also recall that a retailer can only be guilty of credit card fraud if it acted with an intent to defraud. This means it is a defense for a defendant to show that he did not have this requisite intent.

2.3. Falsely accused

Unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon for people or businesses to get prosecuted based on false allegations. People get falsely accused out of

  • jealousy,
  • revenge, and
  • anger.

Thus, it is a valid defense for a retailer to say that a party falsely accused it of violating Penal Code 484h.

man behind bars
A violation of this law can result in a fine and/or jail time

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

The manner in which PC 484h violations get charged depends on the value of the property a retailer receives.

If a retailer commits credit card fraud, and it receives more than $950 in a consecutive six-month period, then the retailer will be charged with grand theft, per Penal Code 487.3 This crime is a wobbler offense under California law, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.4

If an accused is guilty of misdemeanor grand theft, then it can face up to one year in a county jail.5 If guilty of felony grand theft, the accused can face imprisonment in the state prison for either:

  • 16 months,
  • two years, or
  • three years.6

If a retailer violates PC 484h, and it receives less than $950 in a consecutive six-month period, then the retailer will be charged with petty theft, per Penal Code 484 and 488. This crime is charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.7

4. Related offenses

There are three laws related to retailer credit card fraud. These are:

  1. fraudulent use of a credit card – PC 484g,
  2. stealing a credit card – PC 484e, and
  3. forging credit card information – PC 484f.

4.1. Fraudulent use of a credit card – PC 484g

Penal Code 484g PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to fraudulently use another person's credit or debit card.

How PC 484g is punished depends on the value of the items a defendant receives. If the amount of the money, goods, services, etc. exceeds $950 in any consecutive six-month period, the offense will be punished as grand theft, per Penal Code 487. If the value is $950 or less, the offense will be punished as petty theft, per Penal Code 484a and 488.8

4.2. Stealing a credit card – PC 484e

Penal Code 484e PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to steal a credit or debit card, or a party's credit card or debit card information.9

A person that violates PC 484e is guilty of grand theft, under Penal Code 487. The maximum penalty for a violation of this statute is imprisonment in the county jail for up to three years.10

4.3. Forging credit card information – PC 484f

Penal Code 484f PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to forge credit card information.

Violations of Penal Code 484f are punished under Penal Code 470 PC, or California's forgery law.11 This offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony and can lead to imprisonment for up to three years.

Were you accused of retailer credit card fraud in California? Call us for help…

california credit card fraud attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, per Penal Code 484h, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 484h PC. This code section states: “Every retailer or other person who, with intent to defraud:

    (a) Furnishes money, goods, services or anything else of value upon presentation of an access card obtained or retained in violation of Section 484e or an access card which he or she knows is a counterfeit access card or is forged, expired, or revoked, and who receives any payment therefor, is guilty of theft. If the payment received by the retailer or other person for all money, goods, services, and other things of value furnished in violation of this section exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) in any consecutive six-month period, then the same shall constitute grand theft.

    (b) Presents for payment a sales slip or other evidence of an access card transaction, and receives payment therefor, without furnishing in the transaction money, goods, services, or anything else of value that is equal in value to the amount of the sales slip or other evidence of an access card transaction, is guilty of theft. If the difference between the value of all money, goods, services, and anything else of value actually furnished and the payment or payments received by the retailer or other person therefor upon presentation of a sales slip or other evidence of an access card transaction exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) in any consecutive six-month period, then the same shall constitute grand theft.”

  2. See same.

  3. See same.

  4. California Penal Code 489 PC.

  5. See same.

  6. See same.

  7. California Penal Code 490 PC.

  8. See same.

  9. California Penal Code 484e PC.

  10. California Penal Code 489 PC.

  11. See same.

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