San Leandro Embezzlement Lawyer
Many people charged with embezzlement in San Leandro never had any intention of committing a crime. When employees, trustees, and others are placed in a position where they control access to money or other valuable property, they may take actions they consider reasonable, but which are misinterpreted or which unwittingly violate the law.
Embezzlement is a special type of theft and it is considered to violate a trust, so traditionally it has been viewed more harshly by courts than other forms of theft. There are many potential defenses applicable in embezzlement cases that a San Leandro embezzlement lawyer could help you explore. So, if you are facing charges of embezzlement, consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney may be a wise move.
Penalties May Depend on Value and Other Factors
The penalties for those convicted of embezzlement vary depending on the value of the property at issue in the case. If the property considered to be wrongfully taken is worth more than $950, the offense could be treated as a felony offense equivalent to grand theft under California Penal Code §487. This type of offense is referred to as a “wobbler” because courts in California have the discretion to treat the offense as a misdemeanor.
As a felony, embezzlement may be punished by up to three years in prison, or more if the amount is excessive or if the circumstances include certain aggravating factors. As a misdemeanor, embezzlement is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine as high as $1,000.
Conduct that Constitutes Embezzlement
CPC §503 defines embezzlement as “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.” These simple words have been interpreted to require that certain basic elements must be proven in order for a person to be convicted of embezzlement. These elements are as follows:
- The owner of the property entrusted that person with the care of the property, thereby creating a fiduciary relationship
- The person entrusted with the property fraudulently appropriated the property for personal gain or use
- The person fraudulently appropriating the property intended to deprive the owner of its use, either temporarily or permanently
So, under this standard, an employee who—unbeknownst to the employer—”borrows” money with the intention of paying it back may still be found guilty of embezzlement since he or she appropriated the property without permission and with the intention of depriving the owner of its use for a time. An embezzlement lawyer in San Leandro could offer further clarification on how state law addresses circumstances like these.
Defenses for Defendants
While San Leandro embezzlement lawyers often make successful use of many defensive strategies, there are some that may be unique to embezzlement cases.
An attorney could argue that the person taking the property had authority to do so and that the taking was therefore not fraudulent. If an employee entrusted with the use of a company credit card for travel expenses charges excessive amounts, the expenses cannot generally be considered embezzlement because the employer authorized the use of the card for those type of expenses.
It could also be argued that the person taking the property either did not appropriate it for personal use or lacked the intent to deprive the owner. An employee trusted with valuable jewelry may remove the property for cleaning, repair, or appraisal, none of which might be considered embezzlement.
Contacting a San Leandro Embezzlement Attorney
The stigma and the potential penalties of having an embezzlement conviction—or even just a charge—on your record could make it difficult to obtain employment or housing. It may be important to defend any theft charges vigorously.
A San Leandro embezzlement lawyer who understands how these charges are prosecuted in local courts could devise the best defensive strategy to fit the circumstances of your case. If you are facing embezzlement charges or may be charged with any form of theft, talk to a criminal attorney with a thorough knowledge of embezzlement defense to start working toward the optimal outcome in your case.