Embezzlement is a criminal act in California. It is illegal for any individual to engage in embezzlement. However, in some cases, the state uses specific charges to prosecute acts of embezzlement. For example, California uses Penal Code 504 to handle embezzlement by a public officer.
Embezzlement by a public officer involves the misuse of public funds or property. This distinction makes it more serious than other forms of embezzlement. Work with the Simmrin Law Group to learn more about PC 504 and how to fight back.
Understanding Embezzlement in California
Embezzlement is a type of theft in California. In most cases, embezzlement is considered a white-collar crime. Individuals commit embezzlement if they:
- Take property entrusted to them by someone else
- Use said property fraudulently
- Benefit from the use of the property
- Deprive the property’s rightful owner of its value
For example, let’s say that a bank teller accepts funds for a customer. The customer wants the funds placed in their savings account. Instead, the banker puts the funds into a different account that only they can access. They then use these funds to pay their own bills. This action is a form of embezzlement.
The court uses Penal Code 503 to prosecute basic acts of embezzlement. These charges are similar to petty or grand theft charges. In these cases, individuals can end up facing either misdemeanor or felony charges.
Handling an Embezzlement by a Public Officer Charge in Los Angeles
PC 504 deals specifically with the crime of embezzlement by public officers. Public officers are individuals who work for a:
They can also work for different bureaus, boards, agencies, or public departments. Anyone who works for the public can face these charges. Public employees include everyone from an individual working as the mayor of a town to the secretary for a county.
These individuals face PC 504 charges if they make inappropriate use of public funds or property. To face charges under PC 504, they must use these funds in a way that exceeds their official authority.
Take steps to learn more about how to fight back against this charge by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. Our white-collar crime lawyers in Los Angeles are ready to answer your questions.
Convictions for an Embezzlement by a Public Officer Charge
Embezzlement is prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. This flexibility means that the charge is considered a “wobbler.” Generally, individuals face misdemeanor charges if they are accused of embezzling under $950. Misdemeanor convictions lead to jail time of up to six months.
Public officers accused of embezzling larger amounts can face felony charges. However, this is not always the case. Note that embezzlement involving firearms or cars is often treated more seriously. Felony convictions can result in years of time in prison.
In some cases, the court system sentences individuals to probation after a PC 504 conviction. Probation allows individuals to stay out of jail or prison. However, individuals on probation must follow a number of regulations set by the court.
Individuals who disobey court orders can face charges for a probation violation. This offense can lead to jail time, fines, and other legal penalties.
Does a Conviction Under PC 504 Affect Gun Rights?
If convicted of a misdemeanor charge for embezzlement by a public officer, your gun rights will not be affected. However, if convicted of a felony charge, you will face a lifetime ban on owning firearms.
Anyone convicted of a felony faces lifetime restriction of their gun rights in California.
Build Your Defense After a PC 504 Accusation
Focus on handling a PC 504 accusation in Los Angeles by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. Our criminal defense lawyers are prepared to assist you. We are ready to get to work on a defense tailored to meet your legal needs. Our team can work to show that:
- You were not working as a public officer
- You did not commit fraud
- Your rights were violated by law enforcement officers
You Were Not Working as a Public Officer
Only specific people are considered public officers in California. If you were not working as a public officer, you may be able to avoid a PC 504 conviction. However, you could still face charges for other forms of embezzlement.
You Did Not Commit Fraud
Financial matters, especially those related to public funds, are often very complicated. It’s possible that you acted in accordance with the law. A lawyer can go over your situation while working to show that you didn’t misuse public funds or property.
Your Rights Were Violated by Law Enforcement Officers
There are many rules that law enforcement officers must respect in pursuit of their duties. Individuals have many rights that protect them against unfair actions by law enforcement. One of those rights is protection from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
Police officers are barred from searching a person or their property without a warrant or probable cause. A violation of these rights can result in any evidence gathered as a result of an illegal search being thrown out. Your lawyer will move for unlawfully obtained evidence to be suppressed and may even be able to get your case dismissed entirely.
Can a Conviction Under PC 504 Be Expunged?
If convicted of a misdemeanor offense under PC 504, you can petition the court to have the conviction expunged after completing your jail sentence or probation period.
However, if you get convicted of a felony offense, expungement may not be possible. If your conviction results in a prison term, you will not be eligible to have it expunged from your record. A sentence involving jail time or probation can be expunged, but a prison sentence will remain.
Ask a Lawyer About Penal Code 504: Embezzlement By a Public Official
The Simmrin Law Group is here to help if you are charged under Penal Code 504. Contact us for help if you are accused of embezzlement by a public official. Let our white-collar crime lawyers in Los Angeles stand up for you. Find out how we can help by contacting us for a free consultation.
Call us today to get started on your defense. We also have an online contact form available for you to fill out.