White Collar Crime Lawyers Advising Residents of Orange County
Any criminal conviction can have a long-lasting effect but an embezzlement conviction can be particularly problematic. In addition to jail time, fines, and restitution, an embezzlement conviction can make it very difficult to find employment, and it can affect the defendant's ability to obtain a loan. If you or a loved one has been charged with embezzlement, you need a trustworthy white collar crime lawyer to build your defense. Our Irvine embezzlement attorneys at the Law Office of Pilchman & Kay, A Professional Law Corporation, can assist you with protecting your rights against the prosecution.
Whether you have been arrested, accused or investigated, contact our firm immediately at (949) 558-0042.
Understanding Embezzlement Charges in California
Section 503 of the California Penal Code defines the crime of embezzlement as when a person converts property that was lawfully entrusted to him or her for his or her own benefit.
There are several separate elements to the crime:
- The property must have been entrusted to the defendant by the owner.
- The defendant must have converted the property for his or her own use.
- The defendant must have had the intent to deprive the owner of the use of the property.
The property does not need to be of a particular value, although the embezzlement of more valuable items (or larger sums of money) can result in a harsher penalty.
Penalties for Embezzlement Cases
California law punishes people convicted of embezzlement by incarceration, fines, or both. Restitution to the victim may also be ordered.
Penalties often vary depending on the amount of the item or property stolen:
- Embezzlement is considered to be “grand theft” if the property that was taken was worth more than $950 or was a firearm or vehicle.
- A felony embezzlement conviction can potentially result in up to four years of imprisonment and a fine of $10,000.
- “Petty theft” cases involving lesser amounts are considered misdemeanors and may lead to a sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
In determining a defendant's sentence following an embezzlement conviction, both aggravating factors (such as the advanced age or dependent state of the victim) and mitigating factors (like the restoration of the property to the owner before charges were filed) may be considered by the court.
In addition to the state embezzlement statute, there are several federal laws that may be applicable to certain situations. Generally, federal embezzlement laws are directed at public employees and people who work in banks, but there are other circumstances in which a federal conviction is possible. The punishment depends upon the particular statute violated. For example, a person who is convicted of embezzlement of public property can be sentenced to up to 10 years in federal prison if the property that was taken was valued at more than $1,000.
Defending Against Prosecution for Embezzlement Cases
Any failure by law enforcement to comply with procedural requirements involving arrest, search, seizure, and interrogation are just some of the general defenses against embezzlement charges.
A person accused of embezzlement can also use the following as defense:
- If the accused is be able to show that he or she acted in good faith, thinking that he or she had a right to the property in question.
- If the accused is able to prove that it was actually someone else who committed the crime. This is especially common in cases involving theft in the workplace.
- Other defenses that may be available in an embezzlement case include insufficient evidence, duress, entrapment, and incapacity.
A careful and thorough investigation can help reveal the truth as to who actually committed the act of embezzlement and may vindicate a person wrongfully accused.
Discuss Your Embezzlement Charges with an Orange County Attorney
The prosecution always has the burden of proof in a criminal case, and it is required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. A seasoned defense attorney can help the accused not only by making sure the prosecution complies with all legal requirements, but also by actively pursuing all possible defenses. Our Irvine embezzlement lawyers at the Law Office of Pilchman & Kay, A Professional Law Corporation, will be glad to schedule an appointment to discuss the details of your situation.
We represent people accused of crimes throughout Orange County and other nearby areas. You can reach us at (949) 558-0042 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.