Penal Code 484j PC - Publishing Credit Card Information

Penal Code 484j PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to “publish” credit card information, including PIN numbers and passwords.

In particular, the statute states:

Any person who publishes the number or code of an existing, canceled, revoked, expired or nonexistent access card, personal identification number, computer password, access code, debit card number, bank account number, or the numbering or coding which is employed in the issuance of access cards, with the intent that it be used or with knowledge or reason to believe that it will be used to avoid the payment of any lawful charge, or with intent to defraud or aid another in defrauding, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Under PC 484j, “publish” means to communicate information either:

  • orally,
  • on a computer, or
  • in writing.

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

Examples of illegal acts under this statute are:

  • Marissa sends her friend an email which includes the numbers of several stolen credit cards.
  • Louis tells some friends his neighbor's computer password.
  • Kia writes down her dad's bank account number and gives it to her boyfriend.

Defenses

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

  • did not “publish” anything,
  • did not act with an intent to defraud, and/or
  • acted under duress.

Penalties

A violation of Penal Code 484j is charged as a misdemeanor ( as opposed to an infraction or a California felony). The crime 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:

credit card caught on a fishhook
Penal Code 484j PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to publish credit card information

1. What is the legal definition of publishing credit card information under Penal Code 484j?

Penal Code 484j PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to publish credit card information.1

In particular, the statute prohibits a person from publishing any information about a:

  • credit or debit card,
  • personal identification number,
  • computer password, and
  • bank account information,

with the “intent to defraud” another person or entity.2

Acting with the “intent to defraud” means a person tries to trick someone or to persuade them by dishonest means.

Under PC 484j, “publish” means to communicate information to another person either orally or by:

  • writing,
  • telephone,
  • television,
  • radio, or
  • computer network.3

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

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

Three common defenses to Penal Code 484j charges include:

  1. the defendant did not “publish,”
  2. no intent to defraud, and/or
  3. duress.

2.1. Did not “publish”

Please recall that a defendant can only be accused of a crime under Penal Code 484j if he actually “publishes” credit card information. This term is defined in detail within the statute. Therefore, it is always a legal defense for an accused to show that his actions did not meet the definition of “publishing.”

2.2. No intent to defraud

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

2.3. Duress

Duress is a legal defense in which an accused basically says: “He made me do it.” The defense applies to the very limited situation in which a person commits a crime (here, publishing credit card information), because somebody threatened to kill him if the crime was not committed.

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

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

A violation of Penal Code 484j is charged as a misdemeanor.4 The crime is punishable by:

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

In lieu of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor, or summary, probation.

4. Related offenses

There are three laws related to publishing credit card information. These are:

  1. fraudulent use of a credit card – PC 484g,
  2. credit card fraud by a retailer – PC 484h, and
  3. counterfeiting credit cards – PC 484i.

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.

A person violates Penal Code 484g PC when he knowingly uses a:

  • stolen,
  • altered,
  • counterfeit,
  • forged,
  • expired, or
  • revoked

credit or debit card in order to obtain money, goods, services or anything else of value.5

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 488.6

4.2. Credit card fraud by a retailer – PC 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.7

Violations of PC 484h are treated like those under PC 484g. 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 487.8

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.

4.3. Counterfeiting credit cards – PC 484i

Penal Code 484i PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to counterfeit credit cards.

A person violates PC 484i if he:

  1. possess an incomplete credit card with the intent to complete it without the consent of the issuer,
  2. alters, changes or modifies any part of the credit card with the intent to defraud,
  3. allows another person to alter or modify the card or its account information, or
  4. makes, possesses, or "traffics" credit card making.9

A violation of Penal Code 484i can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a wobbler, depending on the facts of the case. Please note that a wobbler offense is one that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by:

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

If charged as a felony, the crime is punishable by:

  • a maximum $10,000 fine, and/or
  • 16 months or two or three years in county jail.

Were you accused of publishing credit card information in California? Call us for help…

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

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, per Penal Code 484j, 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 484j PC. This code section states: “Any person who publishes the number or code of an existing, canceled, revoked, expired or nonexistent access card, personal identification number, computer password, access code, debit card number, bank account number, or the numbering or coding which is employed in the issuance of access cards, with the intent that it be used or with knowledge or reason to believe that it will be used to avoid the payment of any lawful charge, or with intent to defraud or aid another in defrauding, is guilty of a misdemeanor.  As used in this section, “publishes” means the communication of information to any one or more persons, either orally, in person or by telephone, radio or television, or on a computer network or computer bulletin board, or in a writing of any kind, including without limitation a letter or memorandum, circular or handbill, newspaper or magazine article, or book.”

  2. See same.

  3. See same.

  4. See same.

  5. California Penal Code 484g PC.

  6. See same.

  7. California Penal Code 484h PC.

  8. See same.

  9. California Penal Code 484i PC.

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