I have been charged with embezzlement. What is the difference between embezzlement and theft charges? (PC 503, PC 484)
California Penal Code section 503 defines embezzlement as “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.” A criminal conviction for embezzlement can have severe consequences. In addition, embezzlement charges can carry a harsh social stigma that can follow you for a long period of time. If you are being charged with embezzlement, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you present the best possible defense for your case.
Embezzlement Prosecution (CALCRIM 1806)
According to California Criminal Jury Instructions 1806, in order for the prosecution to convict you for embezzlement, the prosecution must prove:
(1) The owner of the property (or an agent of the owner) entrusted his or her property to you;
(2) The owner entrusted you with the property because he or she trusted you;
(3) You fraudulently used the property for your own benefit; and
(4) When you used the property you intended to deprive the owner of its use.
If the prosecution is able to prove each of these elements, you face severe consequences, including the possibility of a lengthy jail sentence. Embezzlement is punished as a form of theft. Embezzlement is charged as either grand theft (PC 487), if the value of the property you embezzled is over nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), or as petty theft (PC 488), if the value of the property you embezzled is under nine hundred fifty dollars ($950).
Grand theft is a “wobbler” and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. An embezzlement grand theft misdemeanor conviction can result in imprisonment in county jail for up to one year and a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000). An embezzlement grand theft felony conviction can result in up to three years in county jail and a fine of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Embezzlement petty theft charges, on the other hand, carry a sentence of up to six months in county jail and a fine of $1,000.
What is the Difference between Theft and Embezzlement?
The biggest difference between embezzlement charges and other theft charges is that in order for you to be convicted for embezzlement, the property must have been entrusted to you. This means that you had authority to access the property. Embezzlement charges generally occur in an employer/employee relationship, where a level of trust has developed.
Generally speaking, theft only requires that you take someone else’s property without his or her consent; the property does not have to be entrusted to you.
Theft charges are punished in the same way as embezzlement charges. If you are convicted of a theft charge, you can be found guilty of grand theft or petty theft depending on the value of the stolen property.
Call Wallin & Klarich
If you have been charged with embezzlement under California Penal Code section 503, it is important that you contact an experienced embezzlement criminal defense attorney immediately to discuss your case. A conviction for embezzlement can result in serious consequences that can have an impact on you for the rest of your life. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending clients accused of embezzlement and theft. If you are facing criminal charges for embezzlement, Wallin & Klarich can help you.
We have offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, and Sherman Oaks. Call us today to discuss your case at (888) 280-6839. We will be there when you call.