Sec 503 of the California Penal Code defines embezzlement as the unlawful taking of property from another person that has been entrusted to their care. This is also called employee theft and employee fraud.
The fact of entrusting the property to another person differentiates embezzlement from other kinds of theft. This is a white collar crime as the most common cases occur in an employee-employer relationship. It is important that the property was legally in the possession of the taker, who later misappropriates it.
The value of the property embezzled determines whether the crime would be prosecuted under Sec 487 or grand theft or Sec 488 or petty theft under the California Penal Code. If the embezzled property is worth below $950, then the applicable statute would be Sec 488 while if the value is above $950, then it would be under Sec 487.
The following are the elements of the crime of embezzlement:
a) The accused had a relationship of trust with the victim;
b) Because of that relationship, properties owned by the victim were entrusted to the accused;
c) The accused deprived the victim of the property by fraudulently taking the property as the accused’s own by misappropriating it or using it for their own benefit;
If the accused is charged with grand theft embezzlement as a misdemeanor, then the imposable penalties would be up to one year in county jail and payment of a fine up to $1,000.
If the crime is felony embezzlement, then the imposable penalties would be between sixteen (16) months to three (3) years in state prison and a maximum fine of up to $10,000. For petty theft embezzlement, then the imposable penalties would be six (6) months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
If the property embezzled was less than $50 and there were no theft related criminal offenses previous, then the charge can be reduced to an infraction, where the penalty would be payment of a $250 fine.
The crime of embezzlement is a serious matter in California. Should you be or know anyone undergoing this process, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.