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Embezzlement is a white-collar crime in California and is punishable by law. It is also commonly referred as ‘Employee theft’ because of most of its cases are related to employee fraud. If you are facing embezzlement charges, it is important to act now and get your defense narrative prepared. We can help you in preparing a compelling defense narrative and will voice your side of the story in the court.
If it is your first run-in with the law, you may be wondering about the difference in theft and embezzlement.
The major difference in embezzlement and other thefts is that in embezzlement, property or object is legally in possession of defendant while in theft the defendant tries to enter or access a property or object illegally. Embezzlement is a serious crime with long-term impact on your life due to prison sentences and permanent criminal record. Therefore, the stakes are too high to ignore.
According to the California Penal Code 503, “Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.” It indicates that property of another person is in the legal possession of the person embezzling it. The common examples of embezzlement charges related to the abuse of authority that has been entrusted to people instead of their job responsibilities. The elements of the crime in embezzlement charges are i) the owner of the property or object trusted the defendant and entrusted him or her. ii) the property or purpose was legally in possession of the defendant. Iii) the defendant misused or abused the property for personal benefits and gains with an intention to deprive the owner of property’s gains. When all these elements are established, the defendant is convicted of embezzlement.
Some of the common examples of embezzlement are employees using company’s car that is given to him or her for driving to client’s meetings, using them for personal travel. Employees using false records to cover up fraud or theft, an employee using the company’s financial account for paying for personal items, or even employees using official phones for personal use can be charged as embezzlement.
In the state of California, there are tough laws and punishments for those who commit embezzlement. It is a wobbler crime which means it can be pursued as a misdemeanor or a felony based on the amount of theft or the value of the property involved and defendant’s previous criminal record. Typical punishments include prison time, monetary fines, and community service.
If it is the first offense involving money or property of the value less than $400, the sentence will be a small fine, up to three years of Informal probation, restitution, and community service.
A second offense is a much more serious matter. It can be charged as Felony Theft (also called petty theft with a prior) and is punishable by a year in county jail or even 16 months to 3 years in state prison.
If it a second offense, the sentence can be much harsher. The convict has to pay fines, restitution amount and may need to spend up to one year in county jail or up to three years in state prison.
If the value of property or object exceeds $400 in value, it is charge as Grand Theft criminal offense and will be charged as
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