Preliminary Hearings in Embezzlement and Grand Theft Cases

Preliminary HearingsThe preliminary hearing is a major hearing in a felony case prior to trial, at which time the prosecution will need to prove up their case by presenting witnesses and evidence. The prosecution has the burden to show that there is probable cause that the defendant committed the felony or felonies. As such, the preliminary hearing is an important part of any defense and an opportunity to lock in and challenge certain witness testimony and show both the Court and prosecution the weaknesses and problems with the prosecution’s case. This is particularly true when defending against charges embezzlement, where the situation is often more complicated and nuanced than it may seem in the charging documents and police reports.

What Is Grand Theft by Embezzlement

Embezzlement, California Penal Code section 503 is a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Often, this is determined by the loss amount in question. Penal Code section 503 states that “Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.” To be found guilty of grand theft by embezzlement, the prosecution must prove:

1. The victim or their agent entrusted their property to the defendant.

2. The victim or their agent did so because they trusted the defendant.

3. The defendant fraudulently converted or used that property for their benefit.


4. When the defendant converted or used the property, they intended to deprive the owner of the property or its use.

The model jury instruction for embezzlement, CALCRIM No. 1806, defines a fraudulent act as when a person “takes undue advantage of another person or causes a loss to that person by breaching a duty, trust, or confidence.”

What Are Some Issues and Defenses to Embezzlement Charges

Embezzlement accusations may arise in the context of complicated business partnerships, work structures, or other types of relationships. Often, the disgruntled reporting party does not provide the full story and the investigating authorities are left with a skewed view about what happened.

One defense to embezzlement is the person’s good faith belief that they were authorized to use or take the property in question.

At the preliminary hearing, it will be crucial to thoroughly question the prosecution’s witnesses to expose all the issues with the case. Prior to preliminary hearing, it will be important for your attorney to have thoroughly worked up the case, obtained and reviewed all the discovery, and subpoenaed other necessary records and documents which will aid in the defense against these serious allegations, and which can be used to impeach the credibility of the witnesses during cross-examination and dismantle the prosecution’s case.

Depending on what happens at the preliminary hearing, the Court could dismiss the case altogether or reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. Even if the prosecution can show that there is “probable cause” for the case to go forward, the defendant in a well-litigated preliminary hearing will be in a stronger position going forward.

Embezzlement and theft crimes such as grand theft, are serious and carry the potential for substantial penalties and incarceration if charged as a felony. It is imperative that you retain the best attorney that you can to help you defend against these charges. It is important that you have an experienced attorney at all stages, especially at a critical juncture such as the preliminary hearing. Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Los Angeles embezzlement attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles County with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience. Attorney Michael Kraut worked in the major fraud department and specifically knows how to effectively represent clients charged with white collar crimes such as embezzlement.

For more information about embezzlement, grand theft, and other white collar crimes, and to schedule your free consultation, contact attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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