UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022
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I unknowingly had my girlfriends mother’s credit card info on my Amazon
account and it was charging her when I believed it was charging my card
info that was also included. I am currently on parole and not doing
anything to go back to prison. Can this be handled civilly and not
criminally, as I did not do it intentionally?
Asked on October 5, 2017 under Criminal Law, Texas
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
IF there is evidence that it was negligent (careless) and not intentional, it would be a civil, not criminal matter, because in that case, you would have had the criminal intent or state of mind ("mens rea") necessary to make this a crime. But if there is evidence that it was intentional, then it would be criminal. You way that was accidental, but your girlfriend's mother, the credit card company, and/or the authorities do not have to believe you. A critical issue: why did you have her credit card information you *your* online account in the first place? If there is no innocent explanation for how her information got on or associated with your account, you are unlikely to persuade anyone this was not deliberate or criminal.
A good place to start would be with a voluntary offer to repay all amounts charged (ideally, all at once--get it over and done with) and deleting the information from your account; those acts will help prove or substantiate an innocent error.
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