A charge for any theft-related crime in California must be taken very seriously because it can lead to a wide range of potential penalties, including jail time.
Embezzlement is a particular type of theft whereby someone deprives a person of their property by unlawfully taking it after it has been entrusted to them, usually by an employer.
This type of offense is viewed severely by the criminal justice system as it involves an abuse of trust. The victim is often an employer, business partner, or person who entrusted assets to another person by necessity.
Apart from the immediate penalties for a potential felony crime, the criminal record you are saddled with can have long-term and life-changing consequences if convicted.
Taking prompt and decisive steps to defend against the charge is, therefore, essential if you have been charged with embezzlement.
Our experienced embezzlement attorneys at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian in Orange County will defend your rights, guide you through the process, and try to prevent the charge from negatively impacting the rest of your life.
Embezzlement and fraud are sometimes confused.
The definition of embezzlement as outlined in California Penal Code § 503 PC is as follows:
“embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.”
Crimes of fraud require the perpetrator to use trickery or deception to appropriate property from the victim. Embezzlement does not require trickery per se but it does require a breach of duty, trust, or conﬁdence.
The following elements need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution in an embezzlement case:
- An owner entrusted property to the defendant
- The owner trusted the defendant
- The defendant fraudulently converted (took or carried away) or used that property for his own beneﬁt, and
- The defendant intended to deprive the owner of its use
Unlike most theft-related charges, a person can often be charged with embezzlement if he or she has lawful possession of another person’s property. This lawful possession must also be coupled with fraudulent use, intent to deprive, and a relationship of trust.
Some common examples of embezzlement include:
- An employee taking office supplies or equipment home for personal use
- A cashier in a retail establishment stealing money from the cash drawer
- A treasurer in a club or association using community money to pay off personal debts