Embezzlement is addressed under property theft laws and occurs when someone was entrusted to manage or monitor someone else's money or property steals all or part of that money or property for personal gain. Note that a key component of an embezzlement charge is that the defendant was in a special position of trust while committing the act of stealing money or property. Both individuals and companies alike can embezzle funds, as well as family members and professional board members.
California penalizes offenses of embezzlement according to the type or value of the property. Embezzlement of money or property worth less than $950 is considered petty theft and is punishable as a misdemeanor. Convicted individuals could case up to 6 months of jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the property is worth less than $50, though, the prosecutor may choose to charge the offense as an infraction penalized only by a fine of up to $250. Note that the mitigation of a charge to the infraction level is not available to defendants with any prior theft convictions.
Embezzlement of money or property worth more than $950 is charged as grand theft, which may be a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor sentence could result in up to 1 year in jail, and a felony sentence could lead to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison.
Be aware that embezzling public money is a felony in California. A convicted individual could face increased fines and penalties, such as repayment of the stolen property or funds and 2-4 years in prison. They will also be permanently ineligible for any state or local government position.
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Aggravating Factors with Enhanced Penalties
Individuals could also face enhanced sentencing if the court discovers aggravating factors present during the incident. For instance, if a defendant is convicted during the same criminal trial of 2 or more felonies involving fraud or embezzlement that resulted in another person losing $100,000, the defendant may face a “white collar crime enhancement,” which adds up to an additional 5 years of prison time to the defendant's initial sentence.
Additionally, a person who commits embezzlement against one of the following individuals while in a special position of trust could also face sentence enhancement:
- an elderly relative;
- a person with mental or physical disabilities;
- a resident of an assisted living facility.
Thorough and Confident Trial Representation in Pleasanton, Hayward, and Fremont
If you have been charged with embezzlement in Dublin, CA, contact an experienced defense attorney immediately for legal help. Crimes of embezzlement in California are classified into different penalty levels depending on the value of the money or property allegedly stolen, so it is best to have a legal professional beside you to ensure you are not being unfairly accused with an enhanced sentence.
Our lawyers at Thompson • Garcia Law, A Law Corporation have over 65 years of combined experience representing accused clients. We are thorough and prepared attorneys who know how to strategize efficient defenses for clients, exploring every possible avenue of defense to ensure you have a tough-to-beat case. If you are facing a financial charge as serious as embezzlement, put a team of confident trial attorneys on your side. Our experience and professional knowledge will safeguard your rights as you deserve.
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