Request a Consultation from an Experienced Embezzlement Attorney
Classified as a white-collar or theft crime, embezzlement can be charged alone or in conjunction with grand theft charges. However a person is charged, their first step should be contacting an experienced embezzlement attorney who can find the best possible defense option. You have found that attorney in Simmons Wagner, LLP. Call us now at (949) 439-5857 for a free legal consultation.
The Definition of Embezzlement
According to California law, embezzlement refers to the unlawful taking of something that has been trusted to you but belongs to another person or entity. It is true of most theft crimes that they involve taking property without permission, but embezzlement is a unique crime in that the property was legally in the possession of the perpetrator, but they used those funds in an unlawful way for their own gain.
Most – But Not All – Embezzlement Occurs in an Employment Situation
Embezzlement is often referred to as “employee theft” for a good reason – the majority of embezzlement cases involve a work environment. In these cases, the employee has permission to access something of value, such as money, credit card numbers, or bank accounts, and then abuses that access by removing resources without the permission of their employer.
Embezzlement Convictions Can Ruin Future Job Prospects
In addition to potential jail time and fines, a person convicted of embezzlement can find it difficult or impossible to continue working in their chosen field. Most employers will perform a background check on any potential employee who will be handling money or other items of value.
If that background check reveals an embezzlement conviction, there is a very slim chance that the job application is going to get the job.
The Prosecution Must Prove a Number of Elements to Prove Their Case
To meet the burden of proof for an embezzlement charge, the prosecution must prove numerous elements. They include:
- The defendant had a relationship with the victim. In most cases, this is an employer-employee relationship.
- The defendant was entrusted with property, money, or another item of value.
- The defendant took the property, money, or item of value with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of the said property, money, or item.
If the prosecution cannot prove all elements, then the defendant should not be found guilty.
Embezzlement by a Public Official
When a city, state, county, or municipal employee commits embezzlement in California, they can be charged with embezzlement by a public official. It involves taking property that is entrusted to them and using it in a manner that is not consistent with their position as a public official. The only difference between this and other types of embezzlement is the fact that the defendant is a public employee when they take the property.
Embezzlement is a Wobbler Offense in California
In the state of California, embezzlement is generally a wobbler offense, which means that the prosecution can decide to charge it as a felony or as a misdemeanor. While the prosecutor will consider the defendant’s criminal history and other factors when deciding between a misdemeanor and a felony, in most cases the value of the item embezzled will be the deciding factor in how the charge is filed.
If the value of the stolen goods is $400 or more, then it can be charged as grand theft. If it is worth less than $400, then petty theft is more likely to be the charge.
There Are Defense Options to Charges of Embezzlement
If you are charged with embezzlement, there are defense options. Your embezzlement attorney will work to find the best possible outcome for your case. Some defense options include:
- Showing that you were acting in good faith when using the money or property
- You did not have criminal intent
- You have been falsely accused
- There is insufficient evidence to show you are guilty of the crime
These are only a few of the potential defense options for this charge. Contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 to request a free legal consultation and determine what your options are.