California Penal Code (PC) section 503
California embezzlement is defined under Penal Code (PC) 503 as unlawfully, or fraudulently taking something from another that has been entrusted to you.
Embezzlement used to be a crime in and of itself; it now falls under California Penal Code 484, Theft. Embezzlement is simply one way to commit a theft. The value of the property that you allegedly embezzle will determine whether you are penalized under Penal Code 487 grand theft or Penal Code 488 petty theft. The prosecutor will charge you with embezzlement as grand theft if the value of the embezzled property is worth more than $950, or if you embezzle a firearm (grand theft firearm), or a car (grand theft auto), regardless of their values. He/she will charge you with embezzlement as petty theft if the value of the allegedly embezzled property is worth $950 or less. The "entrusting" is the major difference between embezzlement and other types of larceny (theft). In order to be convicted of embezzling property, it must be property that you legally possessed or had authority to access. Embezzlement is most frequently seen in connection with employment situations.
Penalties Embezzlement is typically punished as either Penal Code 487 grand theft (if the value of the embezzled property is worth more than $950) or as Penal Code 488 petty theft (if the value is $950 or less).20 California Penal Code 487 PC grand theft may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on (1) the circumstances of your case, and (2) your criminal history.
If you are convicted of grand theft embezzlement as a misdemeanor, you face sentencing of up to one year in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. If you are convicted of embezzlement as a felony, you face a sentence of 16 months, or two or three years in the California State Prison, and a $10,000 maximum fine.21 If you are convicted of petty theft embezzlement, you face up to six months in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.22 If the property you embezzled was valued at $50 or less...and you have no other theft-related convictions, your California embezzlement defense lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce your charge to an infraction, subjecting you to a maximum $250 fine.23 - Multiple violations -- grand theft If you embezzle more than $950 over a 12-month period from your employer, each act of embezzlement will be added up to penalize you as if you had committed one act of grand theft
Penalty Enhancements/Mitigation (1) Aggravating Factors. Aggravated white collar crimes are subject to additional enhancements. If the embezzled property is worth more than $65,000, you face an additional and consecutive California State Prison sentences, depending on how much over $65,000 the property you are convicted of embezzling is worth. This additional sentence can be as high as four years if the property is worth more than $3,200,000. There are other "aggravating factors that the judge may take into consideration before imposing your sentence under California embezzlement law, such as embezzling from a senior citizen or a person with physical or mental disabilities. (2) Mitigating factors.
There are also mitigating factors the judge may take into consideration before imposing your sentence under California embezzlement law, such as if you voluntarily reimburse and/or replace the embezzled property before you are actually, officially charged or arraigned with the offense. Depending on the circumstances, he/she can help you initiate a civil compromise (which basically means that you repay the victim) in an effort to prevent criminal charges from being filed.
Possible Defenses Contact the Lee Law Group to fight your embezzlement charges. As the facts allow, possible defenses include demonstrating that you had a ‘claim of right’ to the property you are accused with embezzling and you took I openly in a good faith belief in this right. Additional possible defenses include demonstrating that you had no criminal intent to take the property and deprive the true owner of it forever, which must have been the case when you took it to be convicted of embezzlement.
Contact the Lee Law Group for additional information on penalties for this offense.