Embezzlement Laws – Penal Code 503 PC

Many people are 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 deciding what to do with that 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 access money or goods of value and is entrusted by their boss, 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 or whether or not the individual has any prior theft-related offenses, that will dictate whether the prosecutors or judge might seek a prison sentence.

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

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 highly complex Ponzi schemes designed to defraud victims of their money. Embezzlement is a fraudulent act when somebody, usually a company employee, who was trusted, takes advantage of the 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 punishment, 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 people collect in 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 Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley courthouses like Van Nuys, San Fernando, and other courts like Glendale, Burbank, and 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.

Showing Something of Value was Taken From Employer

I've handled a lot of embezzlement-related offenses in Los Angeles Courts. They're going to have to prove that the person being targeted, investigated, or arrested stole money from an employer.

Embezzlement under California Penal Code 503 has to do with somebody in a position of trust, like a manager for a business. Then that person ends up either diverting funds their way. It also includes stealing funds, giving funds to somebody else, giving property to somebody else, or having property sent to their location — it depends on what the scenario is.

How Prosecutors Prove a California Embezzlement Case
Prosecutors can prove an PC 503 embezzlement case if something of value was taken by an employee.

The typical way to prove these cases is, first, that the person took something of value from their employer. Second, there's an employer/employee relationship there. Usually, they're not going to prosecute somebody for embezzlement unless it involves a decent amount of funds or goods that are being stolen.

So, it's pretty simple to prove these cases if the police and prosecutors have the evidence. Sometimes there are computer crimes.  Sometimes I've had clients who work for different businesses like USPS or other big entities.

I've had people who embezzled money who work for a mortuary.  I've had low-level employees do it.  I've had higher-level managers involved in embezzlement. I've also seen embezzlement cases not just prosecuted at the state level in one of the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles courts but also at the federal level.

Suppose the theft is significant enough, there's enough money involved, and it involves a high-enough level of sophistication. In that case, there's a strong likelihood that the federal government will pick the issue up.

Penalties for Penal Code 503 PC Embezzlement

So, they present the evidence that the person took the goods or funds, and then they show the person worked for a particular entity, and that's really how they prove an embezzlement case. There's a lot more concern about embezzlement cases because you could be sent into custody for a significant period depending on how much value of the property that you allegedly embezzled.

One big way I've seen people avoid jail time/custody time is to pay back the value of the goods or money taken, especially if we can pay the cashback upfront. That puts us in a solid position to negotiate a favorable resolution in an embezzlement case. 

One of the prosecutors' primary jobs in these embezzlement-related offenses is to make the alleged victim whole — in other words, get them back their property/money, whatever the case may be. If they can do that, the better, the quicker they can do that.

Fight Case vs. Plea Deal

When it comes to embezzlement cases under California Penal Code 503 PC, the alleged victim is usually a company, a business, specific boss who trusted an employee, and that employee broke that trust by embezzling money.

So, it shouldn't be surprising that the prosecutors and judges will be looking to punish the defendant in these types of cases. So, you have to get your strategy together.

The first thing you'll have to decide with the help of your attorney is whether we're going to fight the case or whether we're going to negotiate the issue and work out a plea deal.

Embezzlement Defense Attorney in California - Penal Code 503 PC

If we're going to fight the case, it's pretty easy.  We put the defense investigation out there.  We file any motions that need to be filed, preparing the case for trial.

If, on the other hand, we're going to negotiate the case, then most of the time, we're going to want to try to come up with the money that was allegedly embezzled away from the victim in the case – the company, the boss, whoever it is.

Making that victim whole and paying the money back goes a long way with the prosecutors toward resolving the case. They consider one of their primary jobs as someone trying to help an alleged victim get the money back for them. So, if we can help them get the money back, then we put ourselves in a solid position to try to do a lot of things:

  • (1) avoid jail time;
  • (2) stay out of jail or prison;
  • (3) attempt to get a misdemeanor on the case.

Whether we get a misdemeanor from the beginning or whether we will earn a misdemeanor.

How Can I Fight PC 503 Embezzlement Charges?

Suppose you or your family can pay the people back, one big thing. 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, 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 are a dismissal if we can, but often, the police and prosecutors have done an excellent job, and they have the evidence against you. 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 issue, but also your story as a person.

Embezzlement Defense Lawyer in California

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, you will feel like you're beginning to take control of your criminal case.

So, if you're looking for the best embezzlement defense attorney, you've come to the right place because I've handled hundreds of embezzlement cases over a 30-year career.

I know what it takes to get you the best result and what it takes to defend the case. If we have a good chance that is defensible, and that's what we're going to have to talk about from the beginning, once we make our final decision, as far as whether we're going to fight it or try to resolve it.

Suppose we do decide to try to resolve it. In that case, I'm going to put together a mitigation package for you to be presented to the prosecutors to try to convince them of whatever we're trying to get to resolve the case — whether that involves a misdemeanor, whether that consists of no jail time or prison time.

Factors that Determine Defense Strategy

Whatever we're angling towards, we first have to decide whether or not it makes sense:

  • based on the circumstances of your case;
  • based on your criminal record,
  • based on the amount of loss there is,
  • based on how you impacted the victim in the case, whatever it is you did.

There's a whole host of factors that we have to consider, and then we have to get a game plan together explicitly designed for you, your circumstances, your life, your career, and your future.

So, if you're looking for a great embezzlement attorney, known as one of the best in Los Angeles, one of the best in the San Fernando Valley, you've come to the right place. Pick up the phone now for a meeting with Ron Hedding. Take the first step towards protecting your future, record, freedom, and reputation. I stand ready to help you if you're charged with an embezzlement case in California.

So, if you have an embezzlement case in Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, whether it's at the state or federal level, I've handled thousands of these cases over the many years that I've practiced criminal defense. 

Embezzlement Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles
Call our law firm to review best strategy to fight your Penal Code 503 PC embezzlement charges.

I have a pretty good strategy and a good idea of precisely the best way to handle these cases. One of the first things we need to do is figure out if it's the type of case that needs to be defended where we fight the issue and try to show that we are innocent.

We need to decide whether it's a case where the prosecutors have the evidence they need and will be able to prove the case against you. So, our best strategy is to try to mitigate the situation, get character letters, and figure out how we can get your business paid back the money that was taken, even if we have to get you some time to get that money.

We need to get it paid back if we want to end up with the best possible resolution related to your embezzlement case. I would suggest picking up the phone, making a call, and we can meet and go over everything and figure out the best strategy to get you the best resolution for your embezzlement case. Hedding Law Firm is a Los Angeles criminal defense law firm, and we offer a free case consultation at (213) 542-0940 or by filling out our contact form.