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Embezzlement is a type of theft committed by a person placed in a position of trust by an individual or business. Often, this crime involves the misappropriation of funds from an employer. Given that many embezzlement cases involve large monetary amounts, the penalties for this offense are often significant.

If you are facing accusations of embezzlement, let a dedicated fraud defense attorney advocate for you. With the right defense strategy and the guidance of a Martinez embezzlement attorney, you might be able to avoid a conviction and the harsh penalties that come with it.

Why Might Someone Be Accused of Embezzling?

Penal Code §503 defines embezzlement as the fraudulent appropriation of property by someone to whom it was entrusted. The criminal offense of embezzlement centers on a breach of trust. The misappropriation of an asset or money is only embezzlement when it involves a person abusing their position of trust. Otherwise, the allegations would fall under another type of fraud or theft charge.

There are four things the state has to prove in order to successfully prosecute an embezzlement case.

  • First, the state must show the defendant was placed in a position of trust by their employer or another individual.
  • Second, the prosecution has to show that the property was entrusted to the defendant because they had earned the trust of the owner.
  • Third, a defendant must have fraudulently used or misappropriated the property for their benefit.
  • Finally, the defendant must have done so with the intention of permanently depriving the property owner of their asset.

An embezzlement attorney in your area could look for weaknesses in the case to show to the court that the prosecution could not prove all four of the above elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  If that happens, the case could be dismissed, or the accused could be found not guilty at trial and acquitted.

There are some key points to consider when it comes to embezzlement cases.  A Martinez embezzlement attorney would be able to advise you regarding the case law that supports an embezzlement case and how that law does or does not apply in your particular matter.  For instance, considering whether you actually acted fraudulently could make a difference in your case.  A person acts fraudulently when they take undue advantage of another person and in breaching a duty of trust or confidence, they cause a loss to that individual.

There are several defenses to embezzlement, as outlined below, and if your legal representative can show that you had a good faith belief that you had authorization to act or you had a right to the property it’s possible that there may be a defense.

Defenses to Embezzlement

Many prosecutors struggle to build a case for embezzlement. This is because much of their evidence is often circumstantial. Likewise, there is a fine line between an honest mistake and an intentional act of misappropriation. If the prosecutor cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a person has crossed that line, the charges should be dismissed, or, if the case has made it to trial, a “not guilty” verdict is required.

Lack of Intent

Embezzlement only occurs when a person misappropriates (takes) funds with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of that property. That means a defendant that lacked the intent to permanently deprive someone of an asset has a viable defense at trial. Temporary deprivation is sufficient to prove embezzlement and an intent to restore the property back to the original owner is not a defense. It is  critical to have an embezzlement lawyer who knows how to highlight a complete lack of intent to deprive.


Some allegations of embezzlement result from a genuine misunderstanding. For example, transactions that might at first glance seem like embezzlement could be authorized by an employer. For example, a person paying themself with company funds is not embezzling if they were doing so with the employer’s authorization in order to reimburse the employee for out-of-pocket business expenses.

Good Faith Error

An honest mistake is also a potential defense for an embezzlement charge. Remember, embezzlement is a crime of intent. This means that a conviction is not likely if the state cannot show the intent to steal funds. If a person makes an accounting error or misplaces store inventory, this good-faith mistake could be a defense. When deciding if someone acted in good faith the jury must look at whether the defendant believed they had a right to the property. It is possible that someone may hold a belief in good faith even if that belief is mistaken or unreasonable but if there are facts that show that the belief is completely unreasonable then the conclusion can be drawn that it was not a good faith error.  A Martinez embezzlement lawyer can help you mount the appropriate good faith defense where there was a mistaken belief that there was a right to the property.

Fortunately, issues of intent are difficult to prove. It is not uncommon for the state to refuse to take a person’s word that the transaction was in error and pursue criminal charges. An embezzlement attorney in Martinez could help provide proof that a good faith error is responsible for the transaction in question.

Embezzlement can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.  The maximum punishment for a misdemeanor is one year in county jail and three years in state prison for a felony. Embezzlement is an 1170(h) offense and can be served in local prison. The incarceration exposure is not the only consequence of an embezzlement conviction – it is a crime involving moral turpitude and can be considered an aggravated felony so it has serious immigration consequences, and it can also result in the relinquishment of firearms.  A skilled embezzlement attorney in Martinez can not only address your pending embezzlement matter but can also outline the collateral consequences associated with a conviction and how to mitigate these consequences or avoid them all together.

Contact a Martinez Embezzlement Attorney Right Away

An experienced embezzlement lawyer can make embezzlement a difficult charge for the state to prove. It is arguable that the incident stemmed from a genuine misunderstanding or that the facts surrounding the transactions were not clear. Your attorney could work to mount the most appropriate defense and seek reduction, dismissal, or acquittal of your charges. Call today and let a Martinez embezzlement lawyer fight for you.

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