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.