When does fraud become a federal offense?
Florida law generally prohibits anyone from using a credit card without the consent of its owner. It is also generally against the law to take any action that would allow you to obtain a credit card in someone else’s name. Depending on the circumstances of a case, you may face both state and federal charges.
How a crime becomes a federal offense
The federal government typically has jurisdiction over issues related to interstate commerce. Therefore, if you obtain a stolen credit card in Florida and use it in Tennessee, you have likely committed a federal offense. The same may be true if you acquired a credit card in Florida and used it to buy goods in Canada or another foreign country. If you are convicted of a federal misdemeanor or felony charges, you may spend time in jail, pay a fine or face other potential penalties.
There must be intent
It’s important to note that you generally can’t be convicted of a crime if you had no intention of doing so. For example, if you used your spouse’s credit card without permission, you probably wouldn’t be charged with credit card fraud. The same is likely true if you’re found in possession of a credit card that you found in a parking lot and intended to return it to its rightful owner.
There may be many defenses to a credit-card-fraud charge that may be used in an effort to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. For instance, you may be able to assert that authorities are looking for someone who has a similar name to yours. It may also be possible to argue that you never intended to commit a crime or that someone used your name to commit a crime without your knowledge or consent.