Embezzlement is a white-collar crime, and charges are often filed against bookkeepers, bankers, and accountants. The primary reason is that funds go missing, and there must be someone to blame. Under California law, embezzlement is a theft crime that requires one person who has access and was entrusted with money or property to take control of and steal these items.
It can occur in a private or public setting, and while certain parties commonly face these charges, there are many others. If you are facing an embezzlement charge simply because of the title you hold, you must contact our San Diego embezzlement lawyer at Simmrin Law Group.
While embezzlement is a theft crime, it is viewed differently than grand theft or theft. There is one key difference between embezzlement and these other crimes. With embezzlement, a person is given access to funds or property.
The legal system will look at the individual as someone who has earned the trust of a business or other person with these items. Remember that access does not mean ownership. Simply having access to the money does not mean you are the owner.
Additionally, there can be other parties who have access to these funds and are the true culprit. Embezzlement cases are very complex.
An Example of Embezzlement
Embezzlement is not only regarding business accounts but can happen in other commonplace situations. While an accountant can take funds from a business account and use it for their purpose, other examples exist.
Suppose you hire a mover to take your furniture from your old home to your new one. Along the way, some of the furniture disappears. Some homeowners will assume it got lost in the hustle and bustle, but the reality is the mover took it.
Instead of delivering it to your new home, they made a stop and kept it for themselves. While no money was involved, the mover was entrusted with property and took that property.
For a free legal consultation with a embezzlement lawyer serving San Diego, call (310) 928-9347
The Four Elements of an Embezzlement Case
There are four critical elements of an embezzlement case. The prosecution must prove these elements to get a conviction:
- The owner of the property or money trusts another person with the money or property.
- The owner trusts the individual.
- Another element is that the person entrusted with the property used it for their benefit.
- Upon the theft of the property, the intention was to deprive the original owner of access or use.
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Embezzlement Penalties in San Diego
California can charge you with a misdemeanor or felony embezzlement. The state will determine the kind of charge by the value and type of property. They will also consider your criminal record.
When the court determines the type of charge, you will then face varying penalties as a result.
Misdemeanor embezzlement is seen in cases where the property has a value of $950 or less. Embezzlers can face up to one year in jail and need to pay restitution and $1,000 in fines.
Felony charges, on the other hand, refer to crimes involving a firearm, motor vehicle, or property valued over $950. Under a felony charge, you can face $10,000 in fines, restitution, and up to three years in prison.
Aside from the legal repercussions, there are also other consequences. Your reputation is now tarnished. You will also find it challenging to find a job, especially with a felony conviction.
Additionally, you will be unable to go to college or get loans for a home or vehicle, and your overall living situation will suffer. When facing an embezzlement charge, you should meet with a San Diego embezzlement lawyer immediately.
Additional Penalties for Embezzlement
If there is an accusation of embezzling public funds, it is automatically a felony offense. There are unique circumstances that can aggravate the charges. With this specific charge, the person will no longer be able to work for any state or local government agencies.
Other aggravating factors can change the severity of your charges and outcome. A common aggravation is stealing from an elderly individual or someone who depends on you for monetary management assistance. Another complex aggravation is white-collar crime enhancements, where one person has two or more felony convictions involving embezzlement or fraud.
Additionally, If there is a loss of over $100,000, that is a white-collar crime enhancement. When the losses are over $500,000, the penalties are much steeper. No matter how steep the penalties are or could be, you will need to discuss your options with a San Diego embezzlement lawyer.
Defenses for Embezzlement
While the penalties and lifelong consequences are steep, you have options for your defense. You must defend yourself by explaining, justifying, or excusing the behavior that may have led to these charges. When you provide sufficient evidence to the court, they can offer a plea agreement or dismiss the charges.
Results will vary by the severity of the accusations and the possible defenses. Some defenses we can use to build your case include:
- False accusation
- There was no intention to steal the property
- You legally own the property
- You were unaware that you took the property
- You were under the impression that you had the right to use the property
- There was no intention to deprive the owner of the property
We can use other defenses to build your case, but these are just a few. The defense you need to get favorable results will depend on the charge’s circumstances.
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Speak with a San Diego Embezzlement Lawyer
If you are facing an embezzlement accusation, you need to discuss your options with a San Diego embezzlement lawyer. While there is no legal guarantee of an innocent verdict, there are many ways that an attorney can help you through the process. It is possible to lower the charges and find alternate penalties to keep you out of jail, such as probation.
You must contact a San Diego embezzlement lawyer to discuss your options and begin building your case. The outcome of your case will depend on the evidence and facts surrounding your circumstances. Contact Simmrin Law Group today.