Sometimes, something that you might interpret as a gift or as something that belongs to you is not. Even when you’re sure that you’re using money or resources correctly, it can come back to bite you in the form of an embezzlement charge. No matter what your intentions were, you deserve a fair, strong defense in court.
Our Costa Mesa embezzlement lawyers at Simmrin Law Group can make sure that your rights are represented and that you get a fighting chance. By investigating your case, gathering evidence, and dealing with the prosecution, an attorney could be able to get your penalties reduced or even get your charges totally dropped.
California’s Embezzlement Law
In California, Penal Code (PC) § 503 outlaws the “fraudulent appropriation of property” by someone who has been trusted with that property. In other words, if you take or use money, valuables, or any other property through deception, you could be found guilty of embezzlement.
There are several elements that make up an embezzlement charge. To convict someone, a prosecutor has to show that:
- The owner of some property entrusted it to the defendant
- The owner trusted them to take care of the property
- The defendant purposefully and fraudulently used that property to their own benefit
In an embezzlement case, there isn’t any need to show that the owner of the property had asked the defendant to return it at any point. As long as there was trust involved, the use of that property is illegal.
That being said, some embezzlement cases are unclear. And if a defendant thought it was okay for them to use the resources entrusted to them, they could get a reduced sentence or have their charges dropped. A Costa Mesa embezzlement attorney can put together a strong defense and disprove the prosecution’s charges.
For a free legal consultation with a embezzlement lawyer serving Costa Mesa, call (310) 896-2723
Is Embezzlement a “Wobbler?”
In criminal defense law, there are certain crimes that are known as “wobblers.” These crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, which is a more severe charge. Some cases of embezzlement are wobblers, but the truth is that it depends on the type of offense you’re being charged with.
That’s because, in California, embezzlement is usually punished as grand theft or petty theft. While these are technically different from embezzlement (in theft cases, the property is not entrusted to the defendant), the state treats them the same. Depending on how you’re charged, you could be facing a wobbler.
If you’re alleged to have embezzled property valued at $950 or more, you could be facing grand theft charges. Grand theft is a wobbler in California. Depending on your criminal history, the situation surrounding the crime, and what property was involved, the prosecution could charge you with either misdemeanor grand theft or felony grand theft.
Because this charge is a wobbler, it’s important to hire a lawyer familiar with white collar crimes who can negotiate with the prosecution to get you the most favorable outcome possible. An attorney’s expertise could be what keeps you from receiving the harsh consequences of a felony charge.
Allegations of embezzling property with a value less than $950 could lead you to face petty theft charges. Petty theft embezzlement is not a wobbler. It is always a misdemeanor.
There are some cases in which what would usually be considered petty theft is charged as grand theft. These cases include theft of certain items like firearms, vehicles, or farm goods. While this does not often apply to embezzlement cases, it’s not out of the question.
A criminal defense lawyer can help defend you from a more severe charge than you deserve.
Costa Mesa Embezzlement Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
What Is the Punishment for Embezzlement in California?
Penalties for embezzlement in California tend to range widely and will depend on how much you are alleged to have embezzled, as well as your criminal record. In general, penalties for embezzlement include:
- Up to three years in county jail and $10,000 in restitution for felony grand theft embezzlement
- Up to a year in county jail for misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement
- Up to six months in county jail and $1,000 in restitution for petty theft embezzlement
These are the maximum penalties for embezzlement. Not everyone receives the harshest sentence possible, but it can always happen. The best way to avoid jail time and exorbitant fines is to have a skilled embezzlement attorney in Costa Mesa defending you.
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Defenses Against Embezzlement Charges
To get your charges reduced or dropped, your lawyer will have to negotiate with the prosecution and attempt to disprove their accusations. Common tactics that lawyers use to defend against embezzlement convictions include:
- That you did not fraudulently use the other party’s property, i.e., you did not do so to take advantage of them or did not do so at any loss to them
- That you, in good faith, believed that you actually had a right to the property, even if that belief was mistaken
- That you didn’t intend to actually deprive the other party of their property
To properly defend you, your lawyer will have to find solid evidence and have excellent negotiation skills. You should have an experienced attorney working on your case – one who has been working to defend clients in California for years.
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Talk to an Experienced Embezzlement Attorney in Costa Mesa
We understand that an embezzlement charge can be devastating to you and your career. You could lose your job or administrative role and could potentially even have a felony on your record. That follows you for life.
The Costa Mesa embezzlement lawyers at Simmrin Law Group want to help you avoid the life-changing consequences of a conviction. Call us or contact us online to get a FREE consultation and learn what we can do for you.
Call or text (310) 896-2723 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form