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Access Card Crimes
(Credit Card Fraud)

(PC 484e – 484i)

PC 484e Law: The laws on the crimes of acquiring access cardsforging signatures on access cardsselling or transferring access cards, and producing access cards, are found at California Penal Code sections 484e through 484i.


The crime of acquire access cards is also known as credit card fraud or debit card fraud.

Access Card Defined: An access card is defined as a card, code, account number, or other means of account access that can be used to obtain money, goods, or services, or can be used to transfer funds.

Examples of access cards include automatic teller machine (ATM) cards, debit cards, credit cards, and EBT cards.

There are a wide variety of criminal laws concerning access cards; however, the two most common criminal charges of acquire access cards are found at PC 484e(a), selling access cards, and PC 484e(b), Acquire unlawful access cards.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of PC 484e(a), sell or transfer access cards, the district attorney will need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant did all of the following:

  • Sold, transferred, or conveyed an access card, and

  • The defendant sold, transferred, or conveyed the access card without the consent of the cardholder or the issuer of the access card, and

  • When the defendant sold, transferred, or conveyed the access card, he or she intended to defraud another person.

The victim of access card fraud can be a person, a company, or even the government. 

Note: The district attorney does not need to prove that the defendant's sale of an access card actually lead to the defrauding of another person, entity, or government. The sale of the access card itself, with the intent to defraud, is sufficient to charge PC 484e(a).

PC 484e Penalties

PC 484e(a) is a wobbler, which means that the crime may be filed as a felony or as a misdemeanor.


Felony Sentence: If found guilty of felony PC 484e(a) (charged as PC484e(a)-F), sale of access card, the defendant may face up to three years in prison.

Misdemeanor Sentence: If found guilty of misdemeanor PC 484e(a) (charged as PC484e(a)-M), the defendant may face up to one hundred eighty days (180) in the county jail.

Note: Whether the district attorney files felony or misdemeanor charges of PC 484e(a) depends on the amount of the fraud that was intended by the defendant. Felony PC 484e(a) is filed where the amount that was intended to be sold on an access card is over nine hundred fifty dollars ($950).


PC 484e(b): For the criminal charge of acquiring unlawful access cards, charged as PC 484e(b), the defendant may face the same punishment as the punishment listed above for PC 484e(a).

The difference in the criminal charge between PC 484e(a) and PC 484e(b) is the difference between whether or not the defendant sold the illegal access card, which is charged as PC 484e(a), or whether or not the defendant received the access card, which is charged as PC 484e(b). Therefore, both the person who sold the access card, as well the person who received the access card, may be charged under PC 484e.

Probation Sentence

A probation sentence, with or without some jail time, may be possible in PC 484e cases depending on the circumstances of the case. Split or suspended sentences may also be available for felony access card convictions. In any event, new California law allows any incarceration for PC 484e crimes to be served in county jail (as opposed to state prison).

CIMT: Acquire access card crimes are theft crimes, which means that there is a bad thought or moral wrong-doing behind the commission of the crime. These types of crimes are called crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT). CIMT have special negative consequences, including a possible negative impact on a defendant's professional license, immigration status, or credibility.

Other punishments that follow a conviction to PC 484e crimes can include: violation of probation (if on probation at the time of he commission of the offense,), fines, restitution, restraining orders, denial or revocation of military enlistment, harsh probation terms, and more.

PC 484e Defenses

Common defenses to PC 484e charges include: insufficient evidence, suppression of evidence, coerced confessions, statute of limitations, mistake of fact, and more. (See Defenses to Crimes)


If you are charged with the crime of acquire access cards (credit card fraud and debit card fraud), or PC 484e(a) through 484i(c), contact our criminal defense attorneys without delay for a free consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys will patiently explain your rights and defense options. In some cases of PC 484e charges our criminal defense attorneys may attend court for you without the need for you to appear in court. Call today!



Related Crimes

  • PC 484e(a) Selling access cards

  • PC 484g Unauthorized use of access card

  • PC 484i(c) Counterfeit access cards

Quick Reference Sheet

Crime: Unauthorized Use of Access Cards​

Code: PC 484g  (CalCrim No.: 1951 et seq.)

Wobbler (Yes): PC 484g is a wobbler crime. PC 484g may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.


Incarceration:Felony PC 484g jail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years (if probation not granted). Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 180 days.

Probation: Yes. Probation sentences are available. Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney in PC 484g cases depends on many factors, including the defendant's criminal history, the facts of the criminal case, the presence of criminal enhancements, and more. Probation sentences can include actual jail sentence, work release, or house arrest.

PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 484g is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:

  • Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)

  • Suspended (possibly never served)

  • Served in county jail (not state prison)

  • Note: Limitations may apply

Strike: PC 484g is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 484g is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:

  • Immigration problems

  • Professional Licensing problems

  • Impeachment on credibility


Firearms: Felony PC 484g convictions prohibit a defendant from owning / possessing firearm. 


Bail: $25,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor) (San Bernardino)

Note: More penalties, direct or indirect, may apply. This info is created for that purpose only; accuracy not guaranteed. No attorney/client relationship is formed by use of this info. If arrested or charged with a crime contact a criminal defense lawyer. PC484g-F & CalCrim 1951 et seq.

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Criminal Defense Lawyers

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