Embezzlement is defined in California Penal Code 503. There are several elements that the prosecutor must prove before you can be found guilty of embezzlement. The prosecutor must prove that the owner of the property entrusted their property to you and that they did this because they trusted you. They then must prove that you fraudulently used that property for your own benefit and in doing so you intended to deprive the other of their property. The trust in this situation can be established through a variety of situations—you may have been their employee, have been given temporary possession of their property or you may have been a trustee, a board member or someone who had the right to manage the money or property for the owner. There must be some solid evidence that there was, in fact, trust between the owner and yourself. In order for an embezzlement
Embezzlement can be classified as grand theft or petty theft depending on the amount of property and the type of property that was stolen. If the stolen property is worth more than $950.00, if it is a car or a gun then it is considered grand theft and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is charged as a misdemeanor it can lead to up to one year in jail and a possible fine of $1,000 whereas if it is charged as a felony, it can lead to up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Embezzlement charged as petty theft would occur if the stolen property were worth less than $950.00. This charge could lead to up to 6 months in jail. There are some aggravating and mitigating factors that can apply in the case. If the victim in the case was an elder or someone who had either a mental or physical disability then the judge may give you a larger sentence—this would be considered an aggravating factor. A mitigating factor could be that the judge imposes a lesser sentence because you voluntarily gave back the stolen property. In this case, you must have returned the property before you were charged with embezzlement.
There are a few legal defenses that can be used in order to protect you from an embezzlement charge. Your lawyer may argue that you believed that you had a right to the property. In order for this defense to have worked you have to have taken his property openly and you could not have taken the property because of a debt that the owner owed you. Your attorney may also try to show that you lacked criminal intent. They may also assert that you were falsely accused.
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If you or a loved one is facing an embezzlement charge, you need an aggressive Orange County criminal defense lawyer on your side. With offices in Costa Mesa, we serve people throughout Southern California, including in Huntington Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles. Call (949) 536-7762 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.