Embezzlement in San Diego
This offense occurs under California Penal Code section 503 when a person entrusted with another’s property steals from that person for personal gain. In other words, embezzlement is stealing from another while in a position of trust with that person.
Having established a relationship of trust.
Property you have legal access to but no ownership rights.
Taking another’s property for personal gain.
Understanding Penal Code Section 503
In consideration of the seriousness of embezzlement, California has criminalized it under Penal Code section 503. Under this law, “Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.”
Basically, to convict someone of PC 503, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements:
- The rightful owner of the property entrusted the defendant with it;
- The defendant intended to deprive the owner of the property;
- By fraudulently taking or using the owner's property for own personal gain.
Grand Theft vs. Petty Theft
When people think of embezzlement charges the first thing that comes to mind is a large amount of money being embezzled from a corporation. However, embezzlement charges can result from any amount of money that is unlawfully taken from any entity or person entrusted with the funds. Moreover, whether embezzlement is penalized as grand theft or petty theft will depend entirely on the value of the property in question.
Grand theft is the unlawful taking with the intent to steal property valued over $950. For purposes of embezzlement property valued at more than $950, a car, or a firearm will all constitute grand theft. Grand theft is a wobbler offense that the prosecution has discretion to charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. On the other hand, petty theft is the unlawful taking with the intent to steal property valued under $950. For purposes of embezzlement petty theft is a misdemeanor.
Aggravating Age of Embezzlement Victim
The age of the victim is an aggravating factor in any embezzlement case. Aggravating factors are used by the issuing attorney to increase a criminal defendant’s culpability. For example, if the victim is an elderly or dependent person, then your misdemeanor charges under California Penal Code section 503 will wobble up to a felony.
Penalties For Embezzlement Charges
Misdemeanor Grand Theft Embezzlement:
- Up to one year in county jail;
- Summary probation;
- A maximum fine of $1,000.
Felony Grand Theft Embezzlement:
- Up to 16 months, two, or three years in state prison;
- Formal Probation;
- A maximum fine of $10,000.
Misdemeanor Petty Theft Embezzlement:
- Up to six months in county jail;
- Informal Probation.
Enhancements for Embezzlement
An enhancement offense is an offense whose commission alone increases the penalties for the original crime. In California, if you are found guilty of embezzlement, you would be facing a sentence enhancement of additional and consecutive sentence in state prison depending on the value of the property allegedly embezzled.
Property Worth More than $65,000:
A sentence may be enhanced an additional and consecutive year.
Property Worth More than $200,000:
A sentence may be enhanced an additional and consecutive two years.
For Property Worth More than $1,300,000:
A sentence may be enhanced an additional and consecutive three years.
How Can a Criminal Attorney Prove You Are Not Guilty of Embezzlement
Because of the severity of the penalties that are involved with embezzlement charges, your criminal defense lawyer will have to determine which legal defense strategy will work best in your particular situation.
Here is a list of the most common defenses for embezzlement:
- It was an accident, you lacked criminal intent.
- You were falsely accused of committing embezzlement.
- You held a good faith belief that you had rightful ownership to the property in question.
Your Best Defense against Embezzlement Charges in San Diego
If you have been charged with embezzlement in San Diego and you think the evidence against you is week and does not amount to the PC 503 charges, then the best approach would be to start preparing for trial early in your case. This means contact Vik Monder, a criminal defense attorney with experience in handling charges for various forms of theft, from embezzlement charges to charges for burglary right now at 619-405-0063.
If you were falsely accused or the reports are exaggerating the value of the property in question, then we will focus our defense on the inconsistencies in your case and use them to cross the witnesses on their statements. There are many strategies for different situations the key to a successful outcome in an embezzlement case is to take control of your case early on!