Embezzlement is considered a serious theft crime in California. You are put in a position of trust when you work for someone. When you are accused of betraying a fiduciary trust,  and there is a question of whether that trust is betrayed, you face several problems. The party involved primarily wants their money back, and the law is looking for someone to hold accountable.

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Under the laws of California, embezzlement is a theft crime where the money involved was put in your trust in a legal manner but you appropriated it in an illegal manner.

For instance, if you are in charge of handling money for your employer, whether it be at the register or in the accounting office, that employer has put you in a position of trust. If you handle that money within your job duties, you are fine. If, however, you use that money in a personal matter, whether you pocket the cash in the register or transfer some assets into your name, you could be charged with embezzlement.

According to California criminal statutes, embezzlement is defined as “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.”

There are several examples of incidences that could lead to embezzlement charges, here are a few:

  1. Stealing cash directly from your employer
  2. Writing checks to you or someone you know on your employer’s accounts
  3. Hiding assets from your employer in order to defraud them
  4. Using the property or allowing the property of your employer to be used for another purpose than what it was entrusted to you for

Although these are just a few examples of how you can get an embezzlement charge, it gives you a good idea of how this crime is committed and why you might be facing those charges today.

Potential Penalties for Embezzlement in California

Because embezzlement is a theft crime, the exact charge you face is dependent on the value of the goods or money taken from the employer.

Petty Theft: Reserved for values less than $400 and carries a potential sentence of up to 6 months in jail and fines.

Grand Theft: Reserved for values over $400 and punishable as a felony or misdemeanor with a potential sentence of up to 1 year in jail or prison and fines.

If the property in question is property of the state, county, or city government, the charge will automatically be considered a felony.

Ref. California Penal Code Section 503-515

Embezzlement Defenses

There are a number of ways to fight an embezzlement charge. Complicated financial defenses can include questioning that the evidence of theft points to you and only you. It is entirely possible that you are also a victim, and that someone is trying to point the finger at you, and destroy your good name. The prosecution must prove that beyond a reasonable doubt that another party couldn’t have misrepresented themselves under your name.

There is also a possibility of working out a plea deal that involved restitution, or returning the money to the aggrieved party, in return for dropping or reducing the criminal charges against you.

Facing charges this serious requires quality representation from a defense attorney and law firm with experience in these kinds of complicated financial matters. Call us today to talk about the circumstances regarding your case, and we’ll tell you how we think we can help.