Embezzlement isn’t just something that happens at the top of the corporate ladder. Anyone can be accused of it, even if they were acting in good faith or intended on returning the money. A criminal charge like that is serious, and it can mean the end of your career.
A West Covina embezzlement lawyer can build a defense for you to avoid jail time, and could even be able to get your case dismissed or your charges expunged. You can get a free consultation with someone from our firm to learn more about how an attorney can help.
California’s Embezzlement Law
While there is any number of things that can count as embezzlement, any “fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it was entrusted” is the general definition set by California Penal Code (PC) § 503. Understandably, that wording can be confusing—it helps to understand the different elements of the charge.
The elements of embezzlement under California law are:
- Fraudulent appropriation: This, basically, means theft. Appropriation is the personal use of something, while “fraudulent” means it’s through deception or lies. Something can be non-fraudulently appropriated if someone permits you to use it or if you truly believe that it’s right to do.
- Property: Embezzlement cases don’t just have to involve money. Any property, whether it’s funds, valuables, or anything else that someone else owns.
- By a person to whom it was entrusted: This is what sets embezzlement apart from other theft charges. Someone must have entrusted property to someone else. This can apply to employees trusted to manage money, a worker who handles client information, or an executive who has a company credit card.
Embezzlement is considered a white-collar crime, which means it’s a nonviolent crime generally committed by business or government officials. You don’t have to be a bigwig to be charged with embezzlement, though – anyone can be found guilty, and the majority of embezzlement cases involve small companies and low sums of money.
Embezzlement can be a hard thing to disprove, especially if someone has receipts. However, a skilled lawyer can defend you in court and possibly get your penalties reduced. You can get a free consultation with a West Covina embezzlement attorney who can assess your case and tell you what can be done about your charges.
For a free legal consultation with a embezzlement lawyer serving West Covina, call (310) 928-9347
Can Embezzlement Be Cause for a Civil Lawsuit?
Yes, embezzlement can be both a criminal and a civil case in California. In fact, if someone is acquitted of embezzlement and there is no criminal charge, the other party can still successfully sue them in civil court.
When someone sues for embezzlement, the penalties that the defendant faces are usually not just meant to punish them. Instead, the defendant will have to pay compensation for the financial damages that they caused – namely, they will have to reimburse the other party for what they embezzled.
However, in some cases, there may be punitive damages involved. These are meant to punish the defendant, and may or may not be added on to the economic damages they have to pay.
While someone can be successfully sued if they are not found guilty, having a criminal charge often hurts a defendant’s chances of winning their lawsuit. That’s why it’s important to have a strong criminal defense and a strong embezzlement lawyer in West Covina.
West Covina Embezzlement Lawyer Near Me (310) 928-9347
The Punishment for Embezzlement in California
California’s punishments for embezzlement range widely, and are often based both upon the value of the property embezzled and the defendant’s past criminal history. In fact, embezzlement is usually punished either as petty theft or grand theft.
Embezzlement can be charged as petty theft if the value of the property embezzled is less than $950. In petty theft cases, embezzlement is almost always charged as a misdemeanor. Defendants charged with petty theft embezzlement could face time in the county for up to six months, as well as fines and reimbursement for the property embezzled.
Embezzlement can also be charged as grand theft if the value of the property is more than $950. Grand theft is what is known as a “wobbler,” which means it can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the crime and the defendant’s criminal history.
Felony or Misdemeanor Charges
If someone is charged with misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement, then they could face imprisonment in the county jail for up to a year. Felony grand theft embezzlement can result in up to three years in jail, not to mention the hardships that come with having a felony on your criminal record.
These are the maximum punishments, though. A skilled criminal defense lawyer in West Covina can make a strong case for you so you could potentially have your penalties reduced and avoid jail time altogether. In some cases, an attorney can even get your charges dismissed.
Talk to an Embezzlement Attorney in West Covina for Free
Embezzlement may be a white-collar crime, but that doesn’t mean receiving a conviction is any less serious. A charge can stay with you for the rest of your life and make it difficult for you to hold a job or public office again. A West Covina embezzlement lawyer from Simmrin Law Group can build a strong defense and help you avoid the worst possible penalties.
Call us or contact us online today to get a FREE consultation with an attorney.