A serious charge in California, embezzlement can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you or a loved one has been charged with embezzlement in California, it is important that you understand the basic principles behind and possible punishments for the accusations.
California criminal code defines embezzlement as “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.” In other words, embezzlement involves money put in your trust legally that you steal illegally.
The money involved in California embezzlement cases can come from many different sources. It may originate in a cash register you are in charge of using or a large corporate account to which you have access. Because they are complicated, these cases often result in false accusations.
The penalties for embezzlement charges can vary greatly. Embezzlement can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount of money involved as well as your previous criminal record. If the embezzled money was the property of the state or county government, then the crime is always a felony.
What Does The Prosecutor Have To Prove To Show That I Am Guilty Of Embezzlement?
First, the prosecutor must show that you had a relationship of trust with the victim. Usually, this arises out of some relationship, employer-employee being the most common. However, it can also arise out of some other business of financial relationship, such as a partnership or other fiduciary obligation.
Second, the prosecution must show that the victim entrusted you with certain property. For example, if you worked for the victim, you were probably entrusted with money, supplies, or other assets or goods, as part of your job.
Third, the prosecutor must prove that you had the specific intent to deprive the victim of the property. Even if you ended up returning the property, the prosecutor will be able to prove this element if (s)he can show that you intended to keep the property (temporarily or permanently) at the time of the taking.
What are some of the acts that can result in embezzlement charges? Here are some examples:
- Writing checks from your employer to yourself or your acquaintance
- Taking any form of cash from your employer
- Using your employer’s property or permitting your employer’s property to be utilized for another purpose besides the one that he or she entrusted to you
- Hiding your employer’s assets with the intent of defrauding your employer
Are There Any Defenses To Embezzlement Charges?
To fight an embezzlement charge, a number of defense tactics can be used. As South Bay criminal defense lawyers, we will scrutinize all police reports, witness statements and all discovery that the prosecutor has compiled in your case. Our team can contact the investigating officer and, if needed, employ the use of our defense investigator to interview witnesses.
We will look for any evidence negating the elements of the offense. One defense is that you did not take the property with the intent to misappropriate the funds, or that you had the authority (victim’s consent) to dispense with the funds or property in a way that gave the appearance of impropriety (where none existed). Our South Bay criminal defense lawyers can also argue that you did not have the intent to deprive the victim of the property and that you used it in an appropriate fashion.
We can argue that you believed you had a claim of right over the property. If, for example, your employer entrusted you with money that you believed you could use to cover certain work-related expenses, we can argue that you had a good faith belief that you were entitled to do this, even if your employer did not specifically authorize you to make such an expense.
If there is insufficient evidence to support the charge(s) against you, the entire case can be dismissed. As many embezzlement case charges are dropped due to insufficient evidence, this defense is definitely a valid one.
If you embezzled money from a company under duress, for instance and you believed that you would lose your job if you did not participate in the embezzlement activities — this defense is appropriate. If, however, the money was embezzled due to family hardships or to finance an addiction, this defense is not appropriate.
We have also been able to resolve many of these cases informally through what is known as a civil compromise. Our South Bay criminal defense lawyers will contact the victim and work out an arrangement whereby restitution can be paid directly to the victim to satisfy the claim. Through negotiation with the prosecutor, the embezzlement count can be dismissed in recognition that the victim was compensated.
Further, if you are guilty of embezzlement, there is also the possibility that a plea deal can be worked out. For instance, if you were to agree to give the money back to your employer or another person, the embezzlement charges against you could be reduced or even dropped altogether.
There are a host of issues we can evaluate based on our analysis of the police reports, witness statements and other evidence on file. Based on our findings, we may be able to successfully thwart a criminal prosecution in court, or otherwise weaken the case against you.
If you or a loved one has been charged with embezzlement in California, you need to take the charges seriously. If you have been wrongly accused, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney may be able to earn you an acquittal. If you are guilty, then you may be able to work out a plea deal that reduces or even eliminates the charges against you.
Call Ernenwein & Johnson, LLP, today for quality legal representation against frivolous California embezzlement charges. Our aggressive and experienced lawyers will work for you, helping to eliminate charges and reduce your sentence, and advise you on how to clear your criminal record.
- Violent Crimes
- Criminal Threats
- Elder Abuse
- Second-Degree Murder in California: Different than Zimmerman?
- Torrance Criminal Lawyers – Involuntary Manslaughter Defenses
- Murder Defenses In California
- Murder | Degrees
- What Can Be Learned About Your Defense
- Tips For Finding The Right Arson Lawyer
- Arson FAQs
- How To Fight Felony Arson Charges
- Child Endangerment
- Child Abuse & Child Endangerment | Resources
- Assault And Battery
- Assault & Battery Explanation
- California Assault And Battery Crimes
- Charged With Assault or Battery in Torrance, CA? What You Should Do if You Are Accused
- Weapons Charges
- Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer: Carrying a Concealed Weapon
- Other California Weapons Charges
- Concealed Weapons
- Theft Related Offenses
- Auto Theft Defenses
- Petty Theft And Shoplifting
- Grand Theft vs Petty Theft
- Identity Theft
- California Identity Theft Law: Penalties And Defenses Available
- Facing Identity Theft Charges?
- White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney
- Identity Theft | Credit Card Theft
- Embezzlement Charges
- Charged with embezzlement?
- Embezzlement | Burden of Proof
- Sex Crimes
- Drug Offenses
- How To Avoid A Drug Crime Conviction
- Alternative Sentences For Drug Crimes
- Possession Of Drugs For Personal Use
- Possession Of Marijuana Laws
- Possession Of Marijuana For Sale
- Drug Possession For Sale
- Possession Of Methamphetamine For Sale
- Possession Of Heroin For Sale
- Marijuana Possession
- Marijuana Possession For Sale
- Possession Of Cocaine For Sale
- Attacking The Evidence In A DUI Case
- DUI DMV Hearing
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol | Vehicle Code 23152(a) & (b)
- DUI FAQs
- DUI Court Case
- DUI Reduction: Dry Reckless
- DUI Reduction: Wet Reckless
- DUI Reduction: Exhibition of Speed
- DUI Under 21
- The No Driving Defense
- 10 Common DUI Questions
- Real DUI Success Stories
- Social Media Could Hurt Your Los Angeles DUI Case
- The ‘Rising Blood Alcohol’ Defense
- What Happens When One or More Minor Children are Present in the Car When Arrested for DUI?
- You May Not Have Been Drunk When You Were Arrested for DUI in L.A.
- DUI-Related Reductions
- DUI-Related Enhancements
- Juvenile Defense
- Domestic Violence
- General Felonies And Misdemeanors
- Disturbing The Peace
- Accessory After The Fact
- Driving With A Suspended License
- Caught Driving With A Suspended License?
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- Texting And Driving – Distracted Driving Can Lead To Vehicular Manslaughter
- Vehicular Manslaughter | Resources
- Public Intoxication
- Can I Get My Public Intoxication Charge Dismissed?
- Tagging, Graffiti Can Lead To Stiff Penalties In Los Angeles
- Torrance Vandalism Lawyers Explain The Law & Your Defense
- California Vandalism Graffiti Law Penal Code 594
- Other Practice Areas
- The Criminal Court Process