Using someone’s credit card without card owner’s permission is an offense. If it used accidentally and after realizing the same, card owner is compensated accordingly then the act may not be punishable but in case where the card is used several times without permission of credit card owner, the said act amounts to theft. The amount used, and frequency of using such stolen cards is taken into account by courts while deciding the guilt and punishment in such cases. Facts and circumstances of every case are observed in totality and then it is decided that any act is theft or not.
If someone’s credit card is used by another person with an intention to gain undue advantages and to harm card owner monetarily, it is a theft and there is a provision of punishment for such thefts under provisions of law. the amount ascertains the degree of theft and once the amount is known then only it can be decided that theft falls in first degree, second degree or it is a third degree theft. There are different punishments for different degrees of theft and once guilt is decided, the accused is punished for theft.
When a person knowingly obtains, possesses, uses or transfers a means of identification or financial information of another, he or she is guilty of identity theft and his act is punishable under appropriate provisions under 9.35.020 of Revised Code of Washington (RCW). A person cannot be charged though with multiple violations for one crime or similar charges. Rule of double jeopardy says that no one can be tried more than one time for similar offences or charges. The same fact is reiterated by Supreme Court of America in state of Washington versus Steven Edward Leyda (FindLaw, 2013).
Steven Edward Leyda along with his girlfriend, Cooley visited a shopping center and used a stolen credit card at several occasions on different dates in November 2002. Once cashier got suspicious and Steven Leyda along with his girlfriend was arrested while escaping. Steven was charged with multiple charges of second degree and third degree theft for possessing and using of stolen property. All charges arose out of transactions, related to the credit card that was stolen. Steven Leyda was found guilty by a jury and was convicted for all the charges imposed upon him.
Leyda appealed and argued that he cannot be charged for multiple offences as it is against the rule of double jeopardy. The court of appeal held that since the stolen credit card was used in different transactions, multiple charges are reasonable and rule of double jeopardy is not violated. Leyda made an appeal to the Supreme Court on the same ground of double jeopardy that he had pleaded in court of appeal.
Supreme Court held that court of appeal made a mistake in ascertaining charges upon leyda. It was further added that the offense were not multiple but only one and thus booking the accused with multiple charges was not justified. Supreme Court held that dividing single offense of theft into several offences by the state was not justified and doing so was a violation of the rule of double jeopardy. Supreme Court reversed three convictions out of four second degree charges of theft and ordered to convict Steven Leyda for third degree theft under appropriate provisions.
FindLaw. (2013). Retrieved November 16, 2013, from caselaw.findlaw.com: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-supreme-court/1220663.html