Theft and Forgery of a Credit Card (Offence)

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Theft and Forgery of a Credit Card
s. 342 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Hybrid
summary proceedings must initiate within 6 months of the offence (786(2))
Jurisdiction Prov. Court

Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
Sup. Court w/ Judge-alone (*)

* Must be indictable. Preliminary inquiry also available.
Types of Release Release by Officer, Officer-in-charge, or Judge
Summary Dispositions
Avail. Disp. Discharge (730)

Suspended Sentence (731(1)(a))
Fine (734)
Fine + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail (718.3, 787)
Jail + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail + Fine (734)

Conditional Sentence (742.1)
Minimum None
Maximum same as summary
Indictable Dispositions
Avail. Disp. same as summary
Minimum None
Maximum 10 years incarceration
Reference
Offence Elements
Sentence Digests

Overview

Offences relating to theft and forgery of a credit card are found in Part IX of the Criminal Code relating to "Offences Against Rights of Property".

Pleadings

Offence
Section
Offence
Type
Crown Election Defence Election
s. 536(2)
s. 342(1) [theft, forgery, etc., of credit card] and
s. 342(3) [unauthorized use of credit card data]
Hybrid Offence(s) Yes Yes, if Crown proceeds by Indictment

Offences under s. 342 are hybrid with a Crown election. If prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2).

Release
When charged under s. 342, the accused can be given an attendance notice without arrest under s. 496 or a summons. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 497 on a attendance notice or by an officer-in-charge under s. 498 on a promise to appear or recognizance. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.

If police decide to bring the accused before a Justice pursuant to s. 503, there will be a presumption against bail (i.e. a reverse onus) if the offence, prosecuted by indictment, was committed:

  • while at large under s. 515 [bail release], 679 or 680 [release pending appeal or review of appeal] (s. 515(6)(a)(i));
  • "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association" with a criminal organization (s. 515(6)(a)(ii));
  • where the offence involved a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, while the accused was subject to a prohibition order preventing possession of these items (s. 515(6)(a)(viii)); or
  • where the accused is not "ordinarily a resident in Canada" (s. 515(6)(b)).

Publication Bans
For all offences there is a discretionary general publication ban available on application of the Crown, victim or witness to prohibit the publishing of "any information that could identify the victim or witness" under s. 486.5(1) where it is "necessary" for the "proper administration of justice". Other available publication bans include prohibitions for publishing evidence or other information arising from a bail hearing (s. 517), preliminary inquiry (s. 539) or jury trial (s. 648). There is a mandatory publication ban in all youth prosecutions on information tending to identify young accused under s. 110 of the YCJA or young victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.

Offence Designations
See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.

Offence Wording

Theft, forgery, etc., of credit card
342. (1) Every person who

(a) steals a credit card,
(b) forges or falsifies a credit card,
(c) possesses, uses or traffics in a credit card or a forged or falsified credit card, knowing that it was obtained, made or altered
(i) by the commission in Canada of an offence, or
(ii) by an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence,
or
(d) uses a credit card knowing that it has been revoked or cancelled,

is guilty of

(e) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or
(f) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Jurisdiction
(2) An accused who is charged with an offence under subsection (1) may be tried and punished by any court having jurisdiction to try that offence in the place where the offence is alleged to have been committed or in the place where the accused is found, is arrested or is in custody, but where the place where the accused is found, is arrested or is in custody is outside the province in which the offence is alleged to have been committed, no proceedings in respect of that offence shall be commenced in that place without the consent of the Attorney General of that province.
Unauthorized use of credit card data
(3) Every person who, fraudulently and without colour of right, possesses, uses, traffics in or permits another person to use credit card data, including personal authentication information, whether or not the data is authentic, that would enable a person to use a credit card or to obtain the services that are provided by the issuer of a credit card to credit card holders is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 342; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 44, 185(F); 1997, c. 18, s. 16; 2009, c. 28, s. 4.


CCC

Proof of the Offence

Proving unauthorized use of a credit card under s. 342 should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit either:
    1. steals a credit card,
    2. forges or falsifies a credit card,
    3. "possesses, uses or traffics in a credit card or a forged or falsified credit card, knowing that it was obtained, made or altered" by "commission in Canada of an offence" or "by an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence" or
    4. "uses a credit card knowing that it has been revoked or cancelled"

Proving unauthorized use of credit card data under s. 342(3) should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit "possesses, uses, traffics in or permits another person to use credit card data, including personal authentication information, whether or not the data is authentic" (including PIN numbers or passwords);
  5. the prohibited act enabled the culprit to "use a credit card or to obtain the services that are provided by the issuer of a credit card to credit card holders" and
  6. the culprit did the prohibited act "fraudulently and without colour of right".


Interpretation of the Offence

The offence is made out where a credit card is "first innocently obtained" and then forms "the intention to covert the credit card to his own".[1]

  1. R v Costello, 1982 CanLII 354 (BC CA)

Misc Definitions

Section 321 defines "credit card":

312.
...
...means any card, plate, coupon book or other device issued or otherwise distributed for the purpose of being used

(a) on presentation to obtain, on credit, money, goods, services or any other thing of value, or
(b) in an automated teller machine, a remote service unit or a similar automated banking device to obtain any of the services offered through the machine, unit or device;

...


CCC

Section 2 defines "steal". Section 322 defines theft generally.

Under s. 359, where the accused was found in possession of the stolen property in the last 12 months, it may be used to prove knowledge.

342.
...
Definitions
(4) In this section,
...
“personal authentication information” means a personal identification number or any other password or information that a credit card holder creates or adopts to be used to authenticate his or her identity in relation to the credit card;
...
“traffic” means, in relation to a credit card or credit card data, to sell, export from or import into Canada, distribute or deal with in any other way.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 342; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 44, 185(F); 1997, c. 18, s. 16; 2009, c. 28, s. 4.


CCC

Consent of Attorney General

Section 2 defines "attorney general". Under s. 583, an indictment is still valid regardless of whether it that the required consent was obtained.

Special Shortcut to Proof

See also: Theft_(Offence)#Special_Exceptions_to_Evidence

Evidence
359 (1) Where an accused is charged with an offence under section 342 or 354 or paragraph 356(1)(b), evidence is admissible at any stage of the proceedings to show that property other than the property that is the subject-matter of the proceedings

(a) was found in the possession of the accused, and
(b) was stolen within twelve months before the proceedings were commenced,

and that evidence may be considered for the purpose of proving that the accused knew that the property that forms the subject-matter of the proceedings was stolen property.
Notice to accused
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply unless

(a) at least three days notice in writing is given to the accused that in the proceedings it is intended to prove that property other than the property that is the subject-matter of the proceedings was found in his possession; and
(b) the notice sets out the nature or description of the property and describes the person from whom it is alleged to have been stolen.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 359; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 51.


See Theft (Offence) for more details.

Participation of Third Parties

See also: Role of the Victim and Third Parties and Testimonial Aids for Young, Disabled or Vulnerable Witnesses

Testimonial Aids
Certain persons who testify are entitled to make application for the use of testimonial aids: Exclusion of Public (s. 486), Use of a Testimonial Screen (s. 486), Access to Support Person While Testifying (s. 486.1), Close Proximity Video-link Testimony (s. 486.2), Self-Represented Cross-Examination Prohibition Order (s. 486.3), and Witness Security Order (s. 486.7).

A witness, victim or complainant may also request publication bans (s. 486.4, 486.5) and/or a Witness Identity Non-disclosure Order (s. 486.31). See also, Publication Bans, above.

On Finding of Guilt
For any indictable offence with a maximum penalty no less than 5 years (including offences under s. 342), but are not serious personal injury offences, s. 606(4.2) requires that after accepting a guilty plea the judge must inquire whether "any of the victims had advised the prosecutor of their desire to be informed if such an agreement were entered into, and, if so, whether reasonable steps were taken to inform that victim of the agreement". Failing to take reasonable steps at guilty plea requires the prosecutor to "as soon as feasible, take reasonable steps to inform the victim of the agreement and the acceptance of the plea" (s. 606(4.3)).

Under s. 738, a judge must inquire from the Crown before sentencing whether "reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victims with an opportunity to indicate whether they are seeking restitution for their losses and damages".

Under s. 722(2), the judge must inquire "[a]s soon as feasible" before sentencing with the Crown "if reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victim with an opportunity to prepare" a victim impact statement. This will include any person "who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss" as a result of the offence. Individuals representing a community impacted by the crime may file a statement under s. 722.2.

Sentencing Principles and Ranges

See also: Purpose and Principles of Sentencing, Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offender, and Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offence

Maximum Penalties

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Maximum Penalty
s. 342(1) [theft, forgery, etc., of credit card] and
s. 342(3) [unauthorized use of credit card data]
Summary Election six months jail and/or a $5,000 fine
s. 342(1) [theft, forgery, etc., of credit card] and
s. 342(3) [unauthorized use of credit card data]
Indictable Election 10 years custody

Offences under s. 342 (1) and (3) are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 10 years incarceration. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is six months jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

Minimum Penalties
These offences have no mandatory minimum penalties.

Available Dispositions

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Discharge
s. 730
Suspended
Sentence

s. 731(1)(a)
Stand-alone
Fine

s. 731(1)(b)
Custody
s. 718.3, 787
Custody and
Probation
s. 731(1)(b)
Custody and
Fine
s. 734
Conditional
Sentence
(CSO)
s. 742.1
s. 342 (1) and (3) any OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png

All dispositions are available.The judge may order a discharge (s. 730), suspended sentence (s. 731(1)(a)), fine (s. 731(1)(b)), custody (s. 718.3, 787), custody with probation (s. 731(1)(b)), custody with a fine (s. 734), or a conditional sentence (s. 742.1).

Consecutive Sentences
There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.

Principles

Ranges

see also: Theft and Forgery of a Credit Card (Sentencing Cases)

Ancillary Sentencing Orders

Offence-related Orders

Order Conviction Description
DNA Orders s. 342

General Forfeiture Orders

Forfeiture Conviction Description
Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime (s. 462.37(1) or (2.01)) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence under the Code or the CDSA in which property is "proceeds of crime" and offence was "committed in relation to that property", the property shall be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen on application of the Crown.
Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture (s. 462.37(3)) any Where a Court is satisfied an order for the forfeiture of proceeds of crime under s. 462.37(1) or (2.01) can be made, but that property cannot be "made subject to an order", then the Court "may" order a fine in "an amount equal to the value of the property". Failure to pay the fine will result in a default judgement imposing a period of incarceration.
Forfeiture of Weapons or Firearms (s. 491) any Where there is finding of guilt for an offence where a "weapon, an imitation firearm, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance was used in the commission of [the] offence and that thing has been seized and detained", or "that a person has committed an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance has been seized and detained, that the item be an enumerated weapon or related item be connected to the offence", then there will be a mandatory forfeiture order. However, under s. 491(2), if the lawful owner "was not a party to the offence" and the judge has "no reasonable grounds to believe that the thing would or might be used in the commission of an offence", then it should be returned to the lawful owner.
Forfeiture of Offence-related Property (s. 490.1) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence, "any property is offence-related property" where (a) by means or in respect of which an indictable offence under this Act or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is committed, (b) that is used in any manner in connection with the commission of such an offence, or (c) that is intended to be used for committing such an offence". Such property is to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province.

General Sentencing Orders

Order Conviction Description
Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21) any The judge has discretion to order that the offender be prohibited "from communicating...with any victim, witness or other person" while in custody except where the judge "considers [it] necessary" to communicate with them.
Restitution Orders (s. 738) any A discretionary Order is available for things such as the replacement value of the property; the pecuniary damages incurred from harm, expenses fleeing a domestic partner; or certain expenses arising from the commission of an offence under s.402.2 or 403.
Victim Fine Surcharge (s. 737) any A mandatory surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order is discretionary based on ability to pay and the minimum amounts are smaller (15%, $50, or $100).

History

See also: List of Criminal Code Amendments

Theft, forgery, etc., of credit card
342. (1) Every person who

(a) steals a credit card,
(b) forges or falsifies a credit card,
(c) possesses, uses or traffics in a credit card or a forged or falsified credit card, knowing that it was obtained, made or altered
(i) by the commission in Canada of an offence, or
(ii) by an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence, or
(d) uses a credit card knowing that it has been revoked or cancelled,

is guilty of

(e) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or
(f) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Jurisdiction
(2) An accused who is charged with an offence under subsection (1) may be tried and punished by any court having jurisdiction to try that offence in the place where the offence is alleged to have been committed or in the place where the accused is found, is arrested or is in custody, but where the place where the accused is found, is arrested or is in custody is outside the province in which the offence is alleged to have been committed, no proceedings in respect of that offence shall be commenced in that place without the consent of the Attorney General of that province.
Unauthorized use of credit card data
(3) Every person who, fraudulently and without colour of right, possesses, uses, traffics in or permits another person to use credit card data, whether or not authentic, that would enable a person to use a credit card or to obtain the services that are provided by the issuer of a credit card to credit card holders is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 342; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 44, 185(F); 1997, c. 18, s. 16.


CCC

See Also

References