Citizens of California are legally required to pay money into the government, typically in the form of taxes. These monies are considered public funds and they are supposed to be used only in specific ways. Individuals who misuse these funds for personal gain can face charges under California Penal Code Section 424: Misappropriation of Public Funds.
You can find out more about PC 424 right here with the Simmrin Law Group. You can use this article to review the definition of PC 424, the results of a conviction, and even some options that can be used to defend against misappropriation of public funds accusations.
Go Over the Definition of Misappropriation of Public Funds
Generally, it is public officers who are charged with the misappropriation of public funds. Public officers may be:
- Elected or Appointed Officials
- Government Employed Lawyers or Accountants
- Other Government Employees
Individuals responsible for disbursing, receiving, transferring, or safekeeping public funds can also be considered public officers. There are a number of ways these individuals can violate PC 424 and misappropriate public funds in the state of California. Depending on the specific situation, an individual could face charges if they:
- Take Public Money for Their Own Use
- Take Public Money for the Use of Someone Else
- Loan, Misuse, or Profit from Public Funds
- Fraudulently Alter or Destroy Accounts Related to Public Funds
- Refuse to Transfer or Pay Out Public Funds
An individual must know – or have good reason to know – that they are taking funds without legal authority to face these charges. Generally, PC 424 charges only apply if an individual intends to misuse public funds and to defraud someone.
Consider the Penalties for a PC 424 Conviction
The court system in California can charge individuals who misappropriate public funds with a felony. The penalties for a PC 424 conviction can be incredibly harsh. These penalties can include:
- Fines of Up to $10,000
- Prison Time of Up to Four Years
Additionally, a conviction for misappropriation of public funds automatically disqualifies anyone from holding public office in California. Current state employees will lose their jobs if they are convicted under PC 424.
Review Charges Similar to Misappropriation of Public Funds
There are a number of other white-collar crimes in the state of California that resemble misappropriation of public funds. Individuals may face specific charges for:
- California Penal Code Section 484(a) and 488: Petty Theft
- California Penal Code Section 487: Grand Theft
- California Penal Code Section 503: Embezzlement
In many cases, the differences between petty theft and grand theft accusations are tied to the amount of money stolen or misappropriated. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you focus on each of these charges to learn more about their specific applications in the legal system.
Focus on Legal Defenses for Misappropriation of Public Funds Charges
A misappropriation of public funds accusation does not have to lead directly to a conviction. You may be able to build a strong case to handle these charges by contacting a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer right now. Your lawyer can consider all aspects of your case and may be able to argue that:
You Didn’t Intend to Misappropriate Public Funds
As we mentioned earlier, individuals in California should not be convicted under PC 424 if they did not realize they were misappropriating public funds. If you had no intention of defrauding anyone and believed – or had reason to believe – you were acting legitimately, you shouldn’t be convicted under PC 424.
You Were Falsely Accused of Misappropriating Public Funds
Not all criminal accusations in California are based on the truth. You could be falsely accused of violating PC 424. Your lawyer can focus on the facts surrounding your case to help you deal with these false charges quickly.
You Misappropriated Minimal or Incidental Amounts of Public Funds
There is an exception to PC 424 charges for the misappropriation of incidental or minimal funds. However, the court system does not specifically define what a “minimal or incidental” amount of funds would be. Your lawyer can work to show that – if you misappropriated funds – you did not misappropriate a substantial amount of money.
Let a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You Handle PC 424 Charges
You can increase your chances of beating California Penal Code Section 424: Misappropriation of Public Funds charges by reaching out to the Simmrin Law Group now. Let our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles provide you with the professional legal advice you need. You can speak with us today to get a FREE case evaluation.
Call us at (310) 997-4688 or complete our online contact form to start building your defense.