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Embezzlement And Its Penalties Under California Criminal Law

Embezzlement Defense Attorney in San Luis Obispo, CA

Do you have embezzlement charges filed against you in the State of California?  

Embezzlement is a stressful and serious white collar crime where the stakes are high. If you are facing criminal charges, you need a solid defense from an embezzlement defense attorney with extensive legal experience. You can rely on our law firm in San Luis Obispo to provide your case with our earnest dedication.

embezzlement defense attorney

Our criminal attorneys at 805 Law Group will do everything to get the best possible outcome for the clients we represent. For over two decades, we have helped thousands of individuals and families in Atascadero and throughout San Luis Obispo County in achieving the results they want!

For additional information about embezzlement and its penalties , please contact our firm today.

Why Should I Get A Criminal Law Attorney to Handle My Embezzlement Case In California?

It’s important to have a competent California criminal lawyer who can look at the specifics of your case and figure out how many and which legal defenses are available to reduce or remove the punishments that you face under a California embezzlement charge.

The job of a defense attorney-at-law is to defend you and be your advocate, guide, and confidant inside the complicated criminal justice system. 

Defense lawyers are often divided into two categories: 

  1. Court-appointed criminal lawyers who are funded by the government, and 
  2. Private attorneys who are paid by the defendant.

Several criminal defendants have the financial means to employ a private criminal defense lawyer. The court may appoint a public defender to represent the indigent, those people who cannot afford a criminal attorney. Roughly 80% of all criminal defendants belong to this category. These court-appointed counsels are either public defenders (paid by government salary) or “panel attorneys,” (local attorneys selected from a panel). A tiny percentage of criminal defendants (about 2%) represent themselves in criminal court and are considered as “pro se” or “pro per” defendants.

What Will A Criminal Defense Attorney Do For Me?

Criminal defense lawyers (both private and court-appointed) gather information, examine the case and evidence against their clients, and try to negotiate and bargain deals with the prosecutors. Lower bail, lesser charges, and light sentences are all possible favorable outcomes of these deals. Deal-making has gained prominence and has become a critical element in unclogging our criminal justice system as a result of a variety of circumstances, including political pressure, public pressure, overcrowded prisons, and packed court calendars.

Criminal defense attorneys also interview witnesses, help in the formulation of a plea-bargain, evaluate the prosecutor’s case, consider possible penalties (and the possibility of a specific court judge issuing such a penalty), study search and seizure procedures, interrogate witnesses, and collect evidence. Defense legal counsel may also advise on the possible immigration repercussions of a plea, a conviction, or a criminal record.

Defense legal counsel also provides additional personal services, such as providing the defendant a reality check on the probable outcomes and helping the defendant in dealing with the frustrations and worries that come with being thrown into the criminal process. Naturally, if no plea agreement can be reached, the defense lawyer will give legal representation to the defendant in the criminal trial.

What Is Embezzlement?

The California Penal Code 503 defines “embezzlement” as a white-collar crime. It states three major “elements” that determine California embezzlement. These are the three criteria that the prosecuting attorney must meet to get a criminal conviction:

  • The owner entrusted you with their money or property, directly or indirectly through a third party.

To be charged with embezzlement, the property’s owner should have entrusted the property to you because of trust. As an example, suppose you worked for an organization’s board of directors. However, being an employee or board director is not enough to be convicted of embezzlement. A relationship of trust must be proven by the prosecution.

  • The property entrusted to you was fraudulently used or converted for your personal gain.

You exploited someone or violated their trust in order to convert the property of concern. For instance, a trusted employee causes their company to lose money by diverting funds entrusted to them.

  • You converted or used the property fraudulently, intending to deprive its use by the owner.

If you intended the property’s owner to be deprived of its use, whether for good or temporarily, you committed embezzlement. It makes no difference whether you planned to restore the money or property to its owner later if you intended to deprive the owner for any length of time.

Crimes Related To Embezzlement

In addition to California Penal Code 503, there are other felonies connected to embezzlement that can be charged on top of it. If convicted, an additional charge can result in a harsher punishment. The related offenses are listed below.

Penal Code 424 – Misuse of Government Money

California Penal Code 424 is violated when someone with power over government money unlawfully uses or loans the funds or makes a fraudulent financial record. This criminal offense does not apply if the defendant was ignorant that their actions were unlawful or if the amounts were insignificant.

Penal Code 504 PC – Embezzlement By A Public Official

If public funds or resources are misused by a government official, they may face felony charges under California Penal Code 504 PC. In terms of prison sentencing, this crime is classified as petty theft or grand theft depending on the amount or the value of the resources plundered.

Penal Code 470 – Forgery

Forgery is the fraudulent revision, production, and use of a document. In certain criminal cases, you can be charged with both embezzlement and forgery, such as faking a signature on a cheque that you plan to cash yourself. In California, forgery can be tried as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction can land you in county jail for one year. A felony conviction can result in a 16-month, 2-year, or 3-year county jail sentence.

Penal Code 459 – Burglary

Burglary is defined in California as the entry or attempted entry into a building, structure, room, or vehicle with the intention of conducting theft or a crime once inside. If you plan to commit embezzlement when you enter the structure, you can be doubly prosecuted for burglary and embezzlement. Burglary is a thorny issue in California. It may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony based on the case facts and whether the building was inhabited or not.

Penalties For Embezzlement In California

Depending on the facts of the case, embezzlement could be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the amount allegedly embezzled is $950 or more, you could face grand theft embezzlement charges. If the amount allegedly embezzled is $949 or less, you could face petty embezzlement charges.

The following are the potential fines for several forms of embezzlement:

Misdemeanor Grand Theft

A prison term of 1 year and $1,000 penalty could be imposed, depending on your track record and present situation.

Felony Grand Theft 

You could face 16 months of jail sentence, or 2 -3 years of prison sentence in addition to $10,000 in penalties, depending on past record.

Petty theft 

You could face a 6-month jail time as well as up to $1,000 in penalties.

Petty theft embezzlement under $50  

You could be eligible to have your case dropped in return for a $250 fine.

Aggravated embezzlement

If you are accused of embezzling $6,500 or more, you will be facing aggravated charges and may risk an extra year in jail if convicted.

If above $950 is embezzled in incremental amounts throughout a year’s course, prosecutors could use the overall amount to charge you grand theft embezzlement, rather than charging each individual amount separately.

If you stole money from a juvenile, a senior, or a dependent, you could face additional penalties.

Contact our Criminal Defense Law Firm

Let 805 Law Group fight for you in your embezzlement case. Our embezzlement defense attorney knows how to navigate the legal system and protect your constitutional rights. Schedule an appointment for a confidential case evaluation in order to prepare an aggressive strategy that is suited for you. Call us now and talk to one of our reliable defense lawyers.