Earlier this year, 13 Los Angeles United School District employees were charged with embezzlement for stealing thousands of textbooks from area schools for a book buyer.1 The employees allegedly stole the books from schools in Los Angeles, Inglewood and Bellflower, and were paid $200,000 for the textbooks. The scheme lasted for three years before it was finally discovered.
In California, embezzlement is defined in Penal Code section 503. Under the statute, embezzlement is “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.” Essentially, you commit embezzlement if you steal for personal gain all or part of the money or property that someone else has entrusted to you to manage or monitor. Embezzlement is also commonly referred to as employee theft or fraud and is considered a white collar crime.
5 Things You Should Know About Your Embezzlement Charges
1) Embezzlement Charges Can Occur in a Number of Different Situations: A bank teller can embezzle customer deposits for personal use. A lawyer can embezzle by improperly using client funds in an escrow account. An hourly employee can embezzle funds by falsifying overtime records. There are an unlimited number of embezzlement scenarios.
In every case, you must hold a special position of trust and have legal access to the property or money stolen. This position of trust is a key element to the crime of embezzlement. Without it, you cannot be prosecuted for embezzlement.
2) Embezzlement Falls under Penal Code Section 404 as a Theft Crime: Embezzlement falls under the definition of theft. If you allegedly embezzled a car, a firearm, or property valued over $950, you will be charged with grand theft under Penal Code Section 487. If you allegedly embezzled property valued at $950 or less, you will be charged with petty theft under Penal Code Section 488.
If you are involved in an embezzlement investigation, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to determine how the prosecution may charge you in your case.
3) An Embezzlement Conviction Can Have Serious Consequences: If you are facing petty theft embezzlement, then you are facing a misdemeanor charge. If convicted, you could receive up to a six-month jail sentence and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Grand theft embezzlement can be charged as either a misdemeanor (up to one year in jail) or felony (up to four years in county jail). If you are facing embezzlement charges stemming from allegations of theft of public money, you could be facing more severe penalties.
4) There Are a Number of Defenses You May Want to Raise in Court: The skilled criminal defense lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have a strong understanding of embezzlement law. We will use our knowledge and experience to evaluate your legal defenses, investigate the facts of your case, and provide you with the best possible defense. Some possible defenses to embezzlement include lack of criminal intent, claim of right, and false accusations. It is important that you discuss your defense options with an experienced defense attorney now.
5) Ability to Make Restitution Can Help You Avoid Jail Time: In many cases, we have been able to have embezzlement charges reduced when are clients have been able to repay the amount that was wrongfully taken within a short period of time. Often, the victims of embezzlement crimes would rather see the return of their property than have the accused go to jail. Wallin & Klarich will work with the prosecutor and the alleged victim(s) of embezzlement to ensure you obtain the best possible result in your case.
Where Can I Find the Most Experienced Embezzlement Defense Attorney in Los Angeles County?
At Wallin & Klarich, our criminal defense attorneys have over 30 years successfully defending clients accused of embezzlement in Los Angeles. We are well-versed in defending these cases and have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you win your case. We will examine the circumstances of your particular case in order to provide you with the best possible defense. Let us help you now.
Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, Torrance, Sherman Oaks, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina so we can help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 or fill out our client information form online. We will get through this together.
1. [Winton, Richard, 13 school workers, librarians indicted in textbook theft ring, Los Angeles Times (Sept. 5, 2013) http://articles.latimes.com/2013/sep/05/local/la-me-ln-13-indicted-textbook-theft-scheme-20130905.]↩