Embezzlement Attorney in Orange County

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 vs. fraud

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
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Embezzlement charges in California

As with other theft-related charges in California, whether embezzlement is charged as a felony or misdemeanor depends on the value of the property taken and whether there were any aggravating circumstances.

Misdemeanor Embezzlement

When the value of the property taken is under $950 and there are no aggravating circumstances, embezzlement is usually charged as a misdemeanor in California.

In certain circumstances, a prosecutor may decide to file an embezzlement charge as a misdemeanor even if the property is over $950 in value (see below).

Felony Embezzlement

When the value of the property taken is over $950, embezzlement may be charged as a felony and therefore carries more serious penalties.

Embezzlement of a firearm or an automobile, at any value, may be charged as a felony in California.

Embezzlement as Grand Theft

Embezzlement is considered a type of grand theft in any of the following circumstances:

  • It is valued at over $950
  • It is an automobile, or
  • It is a firearm

Grand theft embezzlement may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony (a “wobbler” offense) depending on the facts of the case, the criminal history of the accused, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

What happens if you’re charged with embezzlement in Orange County?

If you are charged with embezzlement, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you haven’t already done so.

Resist the temptation to say anything to anyone else in your defense, especially to law enforcement. You should take this stance even if you think you have been wrongfully accused. Anything you say to an employee of the company or any law enforcement officer will certainly be used against you.

The possible consequences you face for an embezzlement conviction are harsh. These consequences can have both immediate and long-term effects on your future. Therefore, the steps you take after being charged are vital.

Even if the offense is charged as a misdemeanor, you may still face jail time and a criminal record if convicted.

In most cases, with the right legal representation, you can avoid the harshest penalties if you have retained the right legal representation. Therefore, you should immediately contact our team at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian for a free case evaluation.

Penalties for embezzlement charges in Orange County

Misdemeanor embezzlement

(Petty theft)

Felony embezzlement

(Grand theft)

  • Up to six months in county jail
  • A fine of up to one $1,000, or
  • A combination of these penalties
  • Between 16 months and three years in the county jail
  • A fine of up to one $1,000, or
  • A combination of these penalties

Remember, regardless of whether the charge is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, a conviction goes on your criminal record. This can affect your employment, housing, immigration status and may continue long after you have served your immediate sentence.

An embezzlement charge also involves a breach of trust, which will be of particular concern to any potential employer when performing a background check.

That’s why it’s so important to contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian so they can begin working on your defense as soon as you are charged.

Defending an embezzlement charge

Once The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian has established the facts of the case, listened to the defendant’s version of events, and reviewed all of the evidence, we will start searching for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and any other defenses or mitigating factors that may apply.

Sometimes, embezzlement cases lack conclusive evidence or have technical flaws in the prosecution’s case. Such cases frequently get dismissed or mitigated before trial. We will look for these opportunities and liaise with the prosecution.

If the case does proceed to trial, our attorneys will be ready to defend against the prosecution’s case. Embezzlement charges can be challenging for the prosecution to prove and our team at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian will ensure that you have a chance of clearing your name in court.

Defenses for embezzlement charges generally include the following:

  • The property, in fact, belonged to you
  • You believed in good faith that you had a right to the property
  • You did not have fraudulent or wrongful intent
  • The owner gave you permission to use the property
  • You did not intend to deprive the owner of the property
  • The conversion occurred prior to you having possession of the property

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming and the charges do not look promising for a case dismissal, our experienced embezzlement attorneys at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian will fight for a lesser charge and the least onerous punishments.

Been charged with embezzlement in Orange County?

Bryan R. Kazarian is a former deputy district attorney. His years of experience from thousands of criminal cases have made him one of Orange County’s most sought-after criminal defense attorneys.

At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, we’re ready to protect your interests and provide a thorough defense against an embezzlement charge.

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino, and serve the surrounding areas including Newport Beach and Fullerton. Our lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are available 24/7 to help! Book a free online consultation to get started today.
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