There’s a lot of people being charged with embezzlement in Los Angeles County and the San Fernando Valley, and I don’t think they realize the potential ramifications they face.

The difference between embezzlement and just regular theft is the person who is supposedly embezzling sits in a position of trust.  That’s what the prosecutors and judges look at when they’re deciding what to do with that particular person.

In other words, they consider it more egregious that someone sits in a person of trust than someone who’s just stealing another person’s goods and doesn’t know them at all.Embezzlement Laws – Penal Code 503 PC

When someone is given the power to have access to money or goods of value and is entrusted by their boss or corporation or business, that person turns around and steals.

That is very close to a situation where the prosecutors and judges believe that individuals deserve prison time.

So, often in these embezzlement cases, depending on whether the person has a criminal record, depending on whether or not the individual has any prior theft-related offenses, that’s going to kind of dictate whether or not the prosecutors or judge might seek a prison sentence.

Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will review the embezzlement laws more closely below.

Embezzlement Laws – Penal Code 503 PC

California Penal Code 503 PC describes the white-collar crime of embezzlement as the “fraudulent appropriation of property by someone it has been entrusted to.”

Most cases of embezzlement in California fall under the category of employee theft. For instance, when an employer permits an employee to hold or manage their property or money, they violate their trust by taking it for their benefit.

Embezzlement cases are common white-collar crimes that are often a highly complex Ponzi scheme designed to defraud victims of their money.

An embezzlement is a fraudulent act when somebody, usually a company employee, who was trusted takes advantage of their employer who trusted them, resulting in a loss.

The fraud that Penal Code 503 requires as an element of the crime lies with a defendant misappropriating the property when the owner assumes they are a trustworthy custodian.

Embezzlement is often associated with professionals, such as bookkeepers, financial advisors, and wholly trusted accountants.

What Factors Must Be Proven?

To convict a defendant, a prosecutor must be able to prove all the elements of the crime within CALCRIM 1806 California Criminal Jury Instructions:

  • The owner entrusted their property to the defendant,
  • The owner did so because they trusted the defendant,
  • The defendant fraudulently used the owner’s property for themselves,
  • The defendant had the intent to deprive the owner of its use.

Defendants charged with embezzlement could face either a misdemeanor or felony punishments, called a “wobbler,” depending on the value of the embezzled property.

Penal Code 488 PC petty theft could be charged if the property value was under $950 and is a misdemeanor punished by up to six months in the county jail.

Penal Code 487 PC grand theft embezzlement distinguishes between the misdemeanor or felony forms of the embezzlement crime.

Embezzlement of property over $950 could result in felony charges that carry a sentence of up to three years in state prison and payment of victim restitution.

Penal Code 515 PC would elevate the embezzlement crime to an aggravated crime if the victim were elderly or a dependent.

Other California Embezzlement Statutes

California’s Penal Code has numerous other specific forms of embezzlement that apply to different people under various circumstances, such as:

  • Penal Code 504 PC – embezzlement by public officials or corporate officers,
  • Penal Code 504a PC- embezzlement of leased property,
  • Penal Code 504b PC – embezzlement of secured property by the debtor,
  • Penal Code 505 PC – embezzlement of transported property by carriers,
  • Penal Code 506 PC – embezzlement of funds entrusted to trustees,
  • Penal Code 506a PC – embezzlement of funds collected by people in the business of collecting accounts for others.

Initial Defense Strategy Meeting

So, if you or a loved one is charged in the San Fernando Valley with embezzlement, you want to get an attorney like me who’s been doing this for 30 years.

One who’s handled hundreds of embezzlement cases in the San Fernando Valley courthouses like Van Nuys, San Fernando, and other courts like Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena.

Malibu used to have its courthouse; now, those cases are divided between the Airport Court and the Van Nuys courthouse if a crime occurs in Malibu.

So, what you need to do is pick up the phone.  Set up a meeting with me.  Let’s sit down and talk about it.  A lot of times, we can mitigate these embezzlement cases.

What are the Defenses for Embezzlement Charges?

One big thing is if you or your family can pay the people back. That puts you in a much stronger position than somebody who cannot pay them back.

In other words, the prosecutors and judges feel it is their responsibility to make the victim whole in an embezzlement case.  If we can assist them in doing that, that’s something they take into consideration in trying to deal with you.

The types of things that I’m trying to get if someone is charged with embezzlement in the San Fernando Valley is, of course, a dismissal if we can, but a lot of times, the police and prosecutors have done an excellent job, and they have the evidence against you.Embezzlement Defense Lawyer in California

If that’s the case, then we need to negotiate.  We need to mitigate.  We need to tell our story — not just the story about the case, also your story as a person.

We need to try to convince these guys to give you a chance, and the way that we do that is through mitigation and trying to figure out if it is possible to make the victim whole, how long it will take, what it will take.  As your criminal defense attorney, these are the types of things that I am assessing.

We have you come in, and you sit down with me.  I encourage you to be honest about your involvement so that we can figure out the best way to get you the result you need as it relates to your criminal case.

My recommendation to you is to pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding in the privacy of my office.

We’ll go over your case. If it’s a loved one of yours, you can certainly come in on their behalf, and we can talk about the best course of action moving forward.  Once we get that strategy together, then you’re going to feel like you’re beginning to take control of your criminal case.

I think you’ll have peace of mind, and we’ll put the pieces of the puzzle in place to get you the best possible result. Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case evaluation.