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When is the use of a debit or credit card illegal in New York?

Debit cards and credit cards have become a ubiquitous part of spending in New York. In fact, some people have stopped carrying cash around altogether, preferring to make purchases using a card instead. However, there are circumstances in which using a credit or debit card is illegal, such as when it is used via theft or fraud.

Under New York Penal Code, there are two separate crimes regarding theft or fraud involving the usage of debit cards or credit cards. First, it is against the law for an individual to acquire, or try to acquire, a service by knowingly using a stolen debit card or credit card. Second, it is against the law for an individual to try to acquire a service or item by either displaying or using a knowingly canceled or revoked debit card or credit card.

To be convicted of either of these crimes, the prosecution does not have to show that the accused obtained the card illegally, nor does the prosecution have to show that some sort of service or property was really bought. Moreover, an individual who violates one of the above laws may also be prosecuted for other related theft charges, such as illegal possession of stolen property, forgery or larceny charges.

There are a couple of defenses against these crimes. One is infancy, if the individual is under 16-years-old. Another defense is if the individual has some sort of mental disease or defect. Of course, if one of the elements of either of these criminal charges cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a conviction cannot be obtained. Therefore, if a person is accused of either theft of services or illegally using a debit card or credit card, he or she should make sure to develop a strong defense argument in his or her favor.

Source: FindLaw, "New York Credit Card Fraud Laws," accessed Sept. 18, 2016

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