Embezzlement is defined by Penal Code 503 as a fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom the property has been entrusted. Embezzlement is a form of theft. However, the key characteristic of the crime of embezzlement is that the rightful owner of the property must have “entrusted” this property to you.
An example of embezzlement is if you are a bank employee and your employer gives a roll of the bank’s money to deposit in the bank’s vault, and you instead unlawfully take the money for yourself.
Embezzlement charges are taken very seriously in California. Not only could you face significant jail time, you could also face expensive fines if you are convicted of embezzlement. That is why you should put your case in the capable hands of an experienced criminal defense law firm.
Prosecution of Embezzlement under PC 503
In order to convict you of embezzlement in California, the prosecutor must prove the following three elements:
- There was a relationship of trust between you and the victim or the victim’s agent;
- The victim or the victim’s agent entrusted you with certain property pursuant to this trust relationship; and
- You intended to deprive the victim of that property by fraudulently taking it as your own.
A “relationship of trust” is a technical term often referring to relationships in professional contexts. Some examples of trust relationships are employer-employee, doctor-patient, and lawyer-client. You are “entrusted” with property if you are responsible to manage the owner’s property according to the owner’s wishes.
You must have intended to deprive the owner of the property at least temporarily. If your intent was to take the property for a short while and later replace it, you can still be convicted of embezzlement. Your taking is fraudulent when you take unfair advantage of the victim or cause the victim a loss by breaching a duty of trust or confidence owed to them.
Punishment for Embezzlement Charges
The punishment for an embezzlement conviction depends upon whether you are convicted of grand theft under PC 487 or petty theft under PC 488. A PC 487 grand theft embezzlement conviction, where the value of the embezzled property is more than $950, is a “wobbler.” This means that you may be convicted of either a felony or misdemeanor depending upon the circumstances of your case and your criminal history.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement, you face up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you are convicted of felony grand theft embezzlement, you face up to 3 years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are convicted of petty theft embezzlement under PC 488, you face up to 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Facing Embezzlement Charges? Call Our Attorneys Now
If you are facing embezzlement charges in California, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal lawyers have been successfully defending our clients facing embezzlement charges for over 30 years. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now. Our embezzlement attorneys have the skill and knowledge necessary to help you obtain the best result in your case.
We have offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina and Sherman Oaks. No matter where you are located, we have an embezzlement attorney nearby who can help you.
Call our law firm today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.