September 28, 2023
Colorado, like all states, has laws against credit card fraud and identity theft. But what’s the difference between the two?
To put it simply, credit card fraud involves using someone else’s credit card without their permission or knowledge. At the same time, identity theft goes much further—it involves stealing someone else’s personal information (including Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers, etc.) and using it to commit crimes.
These crimes occur all the time, and understanding the difference between them is essential if you find yourself charged with either.
Credit Card Fraud in Colorado
In our state, it is illegal to use another person’s credit card without their permission or knowledge. This includes making purchases with a stolen or counterfeit credit card or an expired or canceled credit card.
The penalties for this offense vary depending on the amount of money involved. For example, if the total value of items purchased is less than $500, the offender may be charged with a Class 1 Petty Offense and face up to six months in jail and/or fines up to $500. However, if the total value exceeds $2,000, the offender may be charged with a Class 4 Felony and face up to three years in prison and/or fines up to $100,000.
Identity Theft in Colorado
As we discussed above, identity theft is defined as unlawfully obtaining somebody else’s personal identifying information (such as a Social Security number) for unlawful purposes, such as making purchases online or opening accounts under another person’s name.
The penalties for this offense depend on how much money was involved and whether there were any aggravating circumstances (such as providing false information). In general, though, identity theft is usually classified as a Class 4 felony in Colorado, with punishments ranging from probation plus restitution payments to prison time of up to three years, along with hefty fines.
What If You Are Charged with Credit Card Fraud or Identity Theft?
Short answer: get a lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review your case and advise you on what type of defense might work best in your situation.
Another way an attorney can help is by negotiating a plea bargain with prosecutors on your behalf, which could help reduce your charges or sentence if convicted. This could involve agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for lighter penalties such as probation instead of jail time or community service instead of paying hefty fines.
It is essential that whatever agreement is reached is one both parties agree upon because once entered into court, it will become legally binding – you can’t change your mind later on.
Possible Defenses That Can Be Used Against These Charges in Colorado
If you have been charged with either crime, legal defenses may be available that could help reduce or dismiss your charges.
Some common defenses include lack of intent (you did not intend for an offense to occur) and entrapment (you were falsely lured into committing a crime). It may also be possible for an attorney to argue that there was insufficient evidence against you or that evidence was improperly collected during the investigation process.
As you can see, credit card fraud and identity theft are serious offenses that carry significant penalties in Colorado. Knowing the difference between these two crimes can help protect you if you are
accused of committing either crime.
However, the best way to protect yourself if you are charged is to get in touch with a skilled Denver criminal attorney as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.