It is scary and unsettling for someone to accuse you of a crime as serious as embezzlement. While those feelings are understandable, it doesn't mean that you are guilty. You may be the victim of someone who is trying to set you up or even a simple misunderstanding.
What Constitutes Embezzlement Under California Law?
California Penal Code sections 503-515 describe embezzlement as taking property entrusted to you and using it for personal purposes. The property that is taken can be of any value and it often is money. However, the property can also be a vehicle, a credit card or anything you have access to while carrying out your professional duties or while in a position of trust. An example of the latter situation is when someone acting as a power of attorney for an elderly person and diverts funds from that person's bank account to his or her own.
Possible Penalties for Embezzlement in California
Embezzlement can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor charge, you will have to pay a fine not to exceed $1,000 and spend up to one year in jail. For a felony embezzlement charge, the judge has the option of selecting a jail sentence of 16, 24, or 36 months in addition to imposing a fine up to $10,000. Both fines and jail time increase significantly if the embezzled amount is more than certain amounts defined by law.
When sentencing an individual who was convicted of embezzlement, there are many factors that the judge will take into account. In addition to the value of the property, a judge considers the level of trust the embezzlement victim placed in you when the alleged crime took place. The judge will also consider the level of sophistication you employed to take money or possessions belonging to someone else. The key factor that the judge and prosecutor will consider in minimizing the sentence is the amount of money that is paid back or is recovered.
Don't Accept an Embezzlement Charge Without a Fight
Every individual charged with embezzlement is unique and every situation is different. At the Law Office of Nicolai Cocis, we provide one-on-one individualized attention and we thoroughly investigate every possible defense angle. If you or a loved one is facing embezzlement charges, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation to learn more about our strategies. Our office is located in Murrieta, California and we represent the residents of the surrounding cities of Temecula, Menifee, Winchester, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Corona and Riverside.