June 4, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

The California Courts of Appeal for the Fourth District recently held that an individual may be guilty of embezzlement even if that person intended to return the property in the future. Jorge Casas, a car salesman, was carrying out a trade-in transaction with a customer. To complete the exchange, it required Casas to drive the trade-in to the customer’s house to collect a $1,500 down payment. Casas turned a standard procedure into a 400 mile road trip in search of drugs.

He was charged with embezzlement and convicted of the crime. On appeal, Casas argued that he did not intend to permanently deprive the owner; however, the conviction was upheld.

The white collar crime of embezzlement, as defined in California Penal Code § 503, is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted. The prosecution is required to show that (1) the owner entrusted the property to the defendant, (2) the owner did because he/she trusted the defendant, (3) the defendant fraudulently used or converted the property for his own benefit, and (4) the use was intended to deprive the owner of its use. Under this fourth element, however, the defendant has the requisite intent if the use significantly interferes with the owner’s enjoyment of the property.

The punishment for embezzlement depends on the value of the property. Embezzlement is a misdemeanor offense when the value is $400 or less, which carries with it up to 6 months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. When the value exceeds $400, then it is felony embezzlement, which is punishable of up to 3 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Embezzlement often occurs in the workplace where employees are entrusted with valuable items by virtue of their employment.

It often happens in these workplace situations that people are charged with embezzlement when in fact they may have been absent-minded or merely forgetful. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced attorney look at the unique facts of your case and zealously defend you against embezzlement accusations. Our attorneys at Wallin and Klarich have over 30 years of experience handling countless embezzlement cases and will raise all viable defenses to aggressively protect your rights.

Please call Wallin and Klarich today at 888-280-6839 or visit our website at www.wklaw.com to speak with one of our Orange County embezzlement defense attorneys regarding your matter. We will be there when you call.

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