California Embezzlement laws are defined in Penal Code Section 503 PC. This type of crime is considered a white collar crime, or a theft crime. All theft crimes are also called property crimes. Depending on the amount of loss involved, a person could be charged with both embezzlement under Penal Code Section 503 PC, or with a California grand theft, a violation of Penal Code Section 487 PC. Other theft related crimes include Petty theft – Penal Code Section 484 PC, Burglary – Penal Code Section 459, and Grand Theft – Penal Code Section 487 PC.
The definition of embezzlement is also called employee theft. The reason that law enforcement refer to this name is due to the definition. California embezzlement law is defined as an unlawful theft or taking of something that has been entrusted to you that belongs to another person. Most theft crimes involve the taking of someone’s property without their permission. Embezzlement is unique because the property was legally possessed by you, but then it was taken without permission.
Most embezzlement occurs in an employment situation. As the more common name for this crime, employee theft, implies, the great majority of these cases involve an employee who has permission to access an item of value. Once the employee has access to money, credit card numbers, bank accounts or some product, it is removed without permission.
For anyone charged with a California embezzlement crime the result, if convicted, will be disastrous. The stigma alone can result in a person never finding gainful employment in the future. In today’s society of instant access to information, employers almost always run background checks on anyone applying for a job. An embezzlement conviction will most likely lead to you being passed over for another person who does not this conviction.
Not only will you loose future employment, but a conviction can result in imprisonment and loss of your freedom. In addition to jail or prison time, a court will impose significant fines, and you will have a criminal record.
Definition of California Embezzlement – Penal Code Section 503 PC
In order for the prosecution to convict you of embezzlement, they must prove the following elements:
- A person was has some sort of relationship with the victim. In many cases the relationship consists of an employer– employee relationship.
- Within the scope of the relationship, you were entrusted with property or money or any other item of value, and
- You took the property, money or other item of value with the specific intent to deprive the true owner of the property.
Definition of California Embezzlement by a Public Official – Penal Code Section 504 PC
It is a felony for any public official of a State, county, city or municipal employee to fraudulently take any property that is entrusted to you in a manner that is not consistent with your employment as a public official. All of the elements are the same for this type of embezzlement. The only difference is that you must be working in an official capacity as a public employee when you take the property.
California felony embezzlement or California Misdemeanor embezzlement
The prosecution can charge this crime as either as a felony embezzlement or a misdemeanor embezzlement. The value of the amount the item is worth will often make that determination. If the value of the item is $400 or greater then the case can be charged under Penal Code Section 487 PC, grand theft. If the item has a value of less then $400, then the prosecution can charge you with a violation of Penal Code Section 484 PC, petty theft.
Grand theft is the taking of property belonging to another person with a value of $400 or more. This crime is considered a “wobbler.” A wobbler is any crime that be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The prosecution will make the determination of whether to file this wobbler as either a felony or misdemeanor based upon your past criminal record, the amount of the loss in excess of $400, the level of sophistication in the crime, and the vulnerability of the victim. In many cases hiring a pre–filing theft crimes defense attorney in order to convince the prosecution to not file any charges or to file only misdemeanor charges.
If you are charged with a felony grand theft and are convicted, then you can be sentenced to a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 3 years of State prison. If the case is filed as a misdemeanor and you a re convicted then you can be sentenced to a fine of up to $1000 and up to one year in county jail.
Petty Theft – Penal Code Section 484 PC and 488 PC
Petty theft is the taking of property belonging to another person with a value less then $400. This crime is a misdemeanor. The punishment is a fine of a maximum of $1000 and up to one year in county jail.
If you find yourself under investigation for a California embezzlement in Los Angeles, then contact Los Angeles embezzlement defense attorney Michael Kraut prosecutor in the elite Major Frauds Division of the District Attorney’s Office. He has trained law enforcement and prosecutors on embezzlement law and criminal procedure. He has the knowledge and relationships to aggressively defend his clients in this white collar crime. In many cases he is able to handle your matter prior to the case being filed and convince the prosecution not to file any charges. Contact the Kraut Law Group a (323) 464–6453 for your free consultation.