If you are facing criminal charges for embezzlement do not hesitate to contact San Diego embezzlement attorney Vikas Bajaj for help.
Vikas Bajaj has more than 19 years of experience defending the rights and futures of criminal defendants in San Diego County. During this time he has handled incredibly complex and serious criminal matters, including those for embezzlement. His aggressive pre-investigative strategy limits prosecutors from building strong cases against his clients. As a result, he is often able to get the charges against his clients reduced or dismissed. For more more information, call the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC to set up a free consultation. Early intervention in your case is important, so do not hesitate to contact us now.
What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is a form of theft. Generally speaking, theft is the crime of taking property that belongs to another person without their consent. Many crimes of theft involve taking property that is in the possession of another person. Embezzlement, however, is the crime of stealing property that has been entrusted to you.
The crime of embezzlement is defined in California Penal Code Section 503 PC to mean the “fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been intrusted.” In simpler terms, embezzlement means stealing property (including money) that someone has trusted you to look after or guard.
Most of us think that embezzlement is a crime that is reserved for the rich. When we think about embezzlement we tend to picture wealthy people stealing millions of dollars. However, contrary to popular belief, you can face charges for embezzlement for stealing any amount of money or property. Embezzlement convictions carry lengthy terms of imprisonment, hefty fines, and requirements to pay back the value of the property you stole.
Elements of Embezzlement
In order to be convicted of embezzlement, the state must be able to prove each of the following elements of the crime:
- An owner entrusted his or her property to you,
- The owner entrusted you with this property because they trusted you,
- You fraudulently converted or used this property for your own benefit, and
- When stealing the property, you intended to deprive the owner of its use.
So, in order to be convicted the prosecution must prove that someone trusted you enough to put you in charge of their property and you intentionally violated this trust by using the property for your own benefit.
Examples of Embezzlement
While we generally think of embezzlement as a fairly narrow crime, it actually covers a wide range of behaviors. The following situations are examples of behavior that could be charged as embezzlement.
- You work as a cashier at a small grocery store. You take $100 out of the register and use it to buy lottery tickets.
- You work as a salesperson at a high-end boutique and slip some of the expensive items in your jacket pocket. When you get home, you list the items for sale online.
- You’re a keyholder at a retail store and asked to deposit money from the store into the bank. You take the money and use it to buy groceries for your family.
- You’re an executive at a big tech firm in charge of overseeing all financial transfers and accounts. You divert $1 of every transfer to your own personal account.
- You work as a cable technician and are called into a home to replace old equipment. Rather than returning the old equipment to your employer you sell it for your own profit.
The bottom line is that you can face charges for embezzlement any time you fraudulently convert or use property that has been entrusted to you.
Penalties for Embezzlement
Embezzlement can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The specific charge you will face will depend on (a) the value of the property you’ve taken, (b) the type of property you’ve stolen, and (c) your previous criminal history.
Most crimes of embezzlement involving property valued at $950 or less will generally be misdemeanors. Depending on the type of property you’ve stolen, you can face charges for either petty theft by embezzlement or grand theft by embezzlement. Penalties for misdemeanor crimes of embezzlement are punishable by up to one year in jail, $1,000 in fines, and restitution.
Felony Grand Theft by Embezzlement
If you embezzle a firearm, motor vehicle, and/or any property valued at more than $950 you will face charges for felony grand theft by embezzlement. If convicted, your criminal sentence could include a prison term of up to three years, $10,000 in fines, and restitution.
Defenses to Charges for Embezzlement
Accusations of theft and embezzlement are incredibly serious and can be devastating to your future. It is important to defend yourself against these accusations by explaining, excusing, or justifying your behavior. When your arguments and defenses are successful the prosecution will have a difficult time establishing a solid case against you. When this happens, they will be more likely to offer a plea or dismiss the charges. Defenses that may be helpful in your San Diego case for embezzlement include:
- You didn’t intend to steal the property.
- You didn’t know you took or converted the property.
- You mistakenly believed you had a right to use/take the property.
- You are the lawful owner of the property.
- You did not intend to deprive the owner of the benefits of the property.
- You have been falsely accused.
Fighting Embezzlement Charges in San Diego
Have you been arrested and charged with embezzlement in San Diego? Contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC for help. Your life will change forever if you are convicted of a crime. Our experienced embezzlement defense attorneys can help to limit the consequences of your arrest and get the best possible outcome in your case. The state will begin to build its case against you the moment you are arrested, so it is important to act quickly. Call us today to set up a free consultation and learn more about how we can help to protect your future.