Embezzlement is generally considered a more serious crime than common theft offenses. The difference hinges on the fact that someone betrayed a trust regarding money or property. It may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony based on the amount stolen and other factors.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for this crime, you need the guidance of an experienced Anaheim embezzlement lawyer. Your situation may simply be a result of a misunderstanding, or someone may want you to take the blame for what they did. Regardless of your circumstances, an attorney can help you understand the risks you may be facing.
What Is Embezzlement?
Sometimes called larceny or misappropriation, embezzlement can happen at any level in an organization. There are key components that set it apart from other crimes:
- The person was entrusted with the property.
- The person had access to the property.
- The person used the property for their own benefit.
- The person intended to deprive the owner of the property.
Common embezzlement situations involve executives who funnel money into personal accounts or attempt to hide it for their benefit. They may try to cast suspicion on someone else to cover up their theft. Regardless of the details of your case, hiring an embezzlement attorney immediately after being charged can help you decide the right course of action for you.
For a free legal consultation with a embezzlement lawyer serving Anaheim, call (310) 896-2723
Embezzlement Defense Strategies
In a best-case scenario, you can reach an agreement with the other party and avoid a criminal trial. The ability to settle depends on how far along your case is and what you are accused of doing. Regardless of whether your embezzlement attorney in Anaheim advises you to settle or go to court, you may have the choice of using certain defensive strategies:
- You mistakenly took the money or asset.
- The accusations against you are false.
- Another person committed the theft.
- You were informed you had the right to use the money.
- You were told you were the legal owner of the property.
- You had no intention of taking the money or property.
You should hire a lawyer as soon as you are notified that you are suspected or accused of embezzlement. If possible, your attorney should negotiate to keep the other party from filing charges. If charges have already been filed, a skilled embezzlement lawyer in Anaheim can work to reach an agreement for repayment or to have the charges dropped.
If you are arrested, do not share any information besides your name and address with the police. Once you are taken to the police station, you should contact your lawyer immediately. Avoid speaking about the situation with anyone else, including other employees, supervisors, or even family members. Anyone you know could be called as a witness against you, so it is best to consult with your attorney first.
Anaheim Embezzlement Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
Penalties for an Embezzlement Conviction in Anaheim
Embezzlement can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The type of property taken and its value determine which way the charge will go. Any criminal record you already have will also be taken into consideration.
The charge is considered petty theft embezzlement when the amount taken is less than $950. It carries up to six months in jail and a fine of $1000. You must also pay restitution to the property owner.
Embezzling property valued at over $950 is grand theft embezzlement and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, it is similar to petty theft, with a fine of $1000 and up to one year in jail. However, if the charge is filed as a felony, your fine increases to $10,000 plus restitution with a maximum of three years in jail.
Aggravating Circumstances in Embezzlement Cases
The California Penal Code §186.11 lists aggravating circumstances that can increase the penalties for embezzlement:
- Embezzling monies entrusted to you as a public servant.
- Stealing from a member of a vulnerable population, such as the elderly, infirm, or mentally disabled.
- Previous fraud, theft, or embezzlement convictions.
- Embezzling from multiple individuals in a single case, such as a pyramid scheme.
- Stealing over $100,000 or over $500,000.
When the value stolen exceeds $100,000 or $500,000, you will pay fines equal to the amount stolen or twice the amount actually taken. The court is able to seize your personal assets and bank accounts to ensure you pay your fines and restitution amounts. You may also be required to pay the victim’s court costs. In addition to the increase in fines, aggravating factors can add up to five years of state prison time to the standard sentence.
Your attorney can also help you obtain fair market valuations for the property in question to argue for a lesser charge. Property value is determined by its market value at the time of embezzlement, as opposed to when it was purchased. Some items will appreciate, and others will depreciate, or the victim may overestimate the value. Having a fair valuation from a third party can mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor.
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Contact an Anaheim Embezzlement Lawyer Today
Embezzlement is taken very seriously in California. Being convicted can prevent you from serving in government, obtaining loans, or being trusted by future employers. It is imperative that you engage a knowledgeable Anaheim embezzlement attorney immediately to protect your rights. You must have expert legal guidance to minimize the penalties you might face and to guard your future.
The Simmrin Law Group is ready to hear your story and explain your options. We will work tirelessly to develop the best approach for your unique case. Contact us today using our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Call or text (310) 896-2723 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form