Defense Attorney in Sacramento Explains Embezzlement & White Collar Crimes
Penal Code Section 503 covers the law surrounding embezzlement. California defines embezzlement as a white collar theft crime. All theft crimes are considered property crimes. The specific circumstances of the crime may make the crime eligible for prosecution under Penal Code 487 (grand theft), Penal Code 484 (petty theft), and Penal Code 459 (burglary). If you have been charged of embezzlement, make sure to consult with a skilled defense attorney in Sacramento.
Embezzlement is defined as the unlawful taking of property that has been entrusted to the offender but belongs to another person. Embezzlement differs from other theft crimes in that the property was legally possessed by the offender but then was taken without the permission of the owner. Embezzlement is usually committed by an employee, and thus is commonly referred to as employee theft.
Embezzlement in the state of California must satisfy the following elements:
- The accused has some sort of relationship with the victim, commonly an employee relationship.
- Within the scope of the relationship, the accused was entrusted with property or money or another item of value belonging to the victim.
- The accused took the property, money, or other item of value with the specific intent to deprive the owner of said property.
Notice the amount of money or value of the stolen property is not an aspect in the qualifications of embezzlement. While embezzlement may have the connotation of large sums of money being siphoned by the executives of a financial companies, embezzlement charges may and are brought against a wide variety of people in all sorts of positions in a wide range of industries. Taking something of miniscule value, such as a pencil, will not reasonably result in charges of embezzlement. Taking an item of significant value, such as a laptop, or many items of smaller value that collectively constitute a significant value may result in embezzlement charges. It’s important to understand anyone who commits embezzlement may be charged and prosecuted, even if the intention was not to permanently keep the property in question. Contact a defense attorney in Sacramento for more information.
Embezzlement by a Public Official
It is a felony for any public official or employee of a state, county, city, or municipality to fraudulently take any property that is entrusted to that person in a manner that opposes the nature of his or her employment. This is covered in California’s Penal Code 504.
Misdemeanor or Felony?
The crime of embezzlement, when not committed by a public official, may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The value of the stolen property is often the determining factor in how the case is charged. If the value of the item is over $950, an automobile, or a firearm, the case can be charged under Penal Code 487, grand theft, which can be a felony or a misdemeanor. When the property value is under $950, the prosecution will most likely pursue a misdemeanor charge of petty theft.
Even when the defendant is charged with grand theft, the prosecution has the discretion to charge the accused with a misdemeanor or a felony. The following is often taken into consideration when making that decision:
- How much the stolen property was valued at
- How sophisticated the crime was
- The vulnerability of the victim
Penalties can vary depending on your case and a skilled defense attorney in Sacramento can explain in more detail. When convicted of petty theft, the potential penalties include:
- Misdemeanor probation
- A fine of up to $1000
- Up to six months in county jail
When convicted of misdemeanor grand theft, the potential penalties include:
- A fine of at most $1000
- Up to one year in county jail
The potential consequences for felony grand theft include:
- A fine of at most $10,000
- Up to 3 years in state prison
Besides the fines and jail time, being convicted of embezzlement has significant social consequences. The stigma of embezzlement is very significant and may prevent future employment.
Anyone can be charged for embezzlement – you don’t have to be a financial worker or in the executive branch to be charged with stealing property or money from your boss. There are many ways to fight embezzlement charges which your defense attorney in Sacramento will help with. Common legal defenses to embezzlement charges include:
- You believed you had the right to the property
- You lacked criminal intent
- You were falsely accused.
Embezzlement charges can be confusing and distressing. It’s important to seek legal representation from a law group with significant experience and understand of this specific aspect of law. Seeking legal representation before your trial is extremely important as it may be possible to convince prosecutors to drop their charges or to reduce the charge.
Call a Defense Attorney in Sacramento for Your White Collar Legal Needs
Law Office of Wing & Parisi provides personalized attention to every client and works closely with you to tailor a legal strategy pertaining to your case specifically. Give us a call at (916) 441-4888 to speak to a defense attorney in Sacramento.
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