EMBEZZLEMENT DEFENSE ATTORNEY ORANGE COUNTY CA
The Orange County theft offense known as embezzlement is a crime that is unique in that it only applies to cases in which a person is accused of taking property that was entrusted to them by an owner with whom they have a relationship of trust, whether explicit or implied. Defendants in Orange County embezzlement cases are often the property owner’s employee, a person given temporary possession of the owner’s property, or the trustee, principal or board member of an organization with permission to access the organization’s money or property. Still, embezzlement is a common enough crime and the penalties associated with an embezzlement conviction in Orange County can be wide-reaching and long-lasting, with the defendant facing possible jail time, significant fines and a criminal record, even as a first-time offender. If you or a loved one has been arrested for embezzlement in Orange County or the surrounding counties, don’t risk a conviction. Contact our skilled Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today to find out how to defend yourself against embezzlement charges.
Affordable Orange County Embezzlement Defense Attorney
The Orange County criminal justice system is complicated and with any criminal proceeding, it is imperative that you hire an attorney with a clear understanding of the law and how it applies to your case. When you hire our lawyers at Seyb Law Group to defend you in criminal court, it is our main objective to protect your legal rights and safeguard your future and your freedom, and in that pursuit, there is no substitute for skill and experience. Any time you are facing embezzlement charges in Orange County, you need a defense attorney on your side with a proven record of success defending theft crimes cases. At Seyb Law Group, our attorneys have more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience and we have seen which defense strategies work in embezzlement cases and which ones don’t. Our legal team has earned a reputation for aggressively and effectively representing the rights of the criminally accused in the community and we can help you get the best possible outcome in your Orange County embezzlement case. Consult our defense lawyers today for a free evaluation of your theft crimes case.
Embezzlement is the crime of unlawfully taking something that has been entrusted to you but that belongs to another person, usually money or other personal property. Also known as “employee theft,” embezzlement often occurs in an employment situation, when an employee who has permission to access money, bank accounts, credit card numbers or another item of value belonging to his or her employer or business clients, removes the item without permission and uses it for his or her own benefit. This is what makes the crime of embezzlement unique from other theft crimes – the property you are accused of stealing was initially legally possessed by you, but then it was allegedly taken without permission. Embezzlement is known as a “white-collar” crime, or a corporate crime, a term used to describe financially-motivated, non-violent crimes typically committed by business and government professionals.
Most people have seen high-profile business professionals charged with embezzlement on the news, and that may give them the idea that embezzlement is a complex crime committed by high-powered executives and always involving large sums of money. However, the reality is that the crime of embezzlement can be charged against any person who unlawfully steals or borrows property belonging to someone else that was entrusted to them, even if that person didn’t intend to keep the property in question. Some examples of situations in which Orange County embezzlement charges could be filed include the following:
- The treasurer of a non-profit organization takes thousands of dollars out of the organization’s bank account and uses the money to pay a loan shark.
- A visiting nurse who cares for an elderly man at his home is asked by her employer to deposit several hundred dollars in cash in the man’s bank account. Instead, she uses the money to pay her car payment.
California Embezzlement Penal Code § 503 PC
Penal Code § 503 PC is the law in Orange County that makes it a crime to commit embezzlement, defined as fraudulently appropriating property that belongs to someone else and that has been entrusted to you. Under Orange County law, embezzlement is technically charged as a form of grand theft under PC § 487 or a form of petty theft under PC § 484(a) and PC § 488, a distinction that depends on the type of property that was stolen or borrowed, and the value of the property. For instance, the crime would fall under petty theft if the property is worth $950 or less, and grand theft if the property is either worth more than $950, or if it is an automobile or firearm, regardless of its value.
Another Orange County embezzlement crime similar to, but separate from, the crime of PC § 503 is the crime of PC § 504, embezzlement by a public official. Under this law, it is a felony offense for any public official or state, county, city or municipal employee to fraudulently take any property in his or her possession or under his or her control and use it for any purpose “not in the due and lawful execution of [the property owner’s] trust.” This crime is identical to that of embezzlement except that it is committed by a person who is serving in an official capacity as a public employee when he or she fraudulently takes the property. Other embezzlement-related crimes include PC § 506 – embezzlement by fiduciaries of trust and PC § 508 – embezzlement by clerk or agent.
What is the Difference Between Embezzlement and Theft?
Embezzlement is a form of theft and the crimes are therefore closely related. However, there are some important differences between the nature of these criminal offenses and the punishment that could result from a conviction. Orange County theft crimes like petty theft and grand theft are defined as the willful and unlawful taking of another person’s property, without that person’s permission and with the intent to deprive the person of that property. This is also the case with embezzlement, but with one major difference. The main component of an embezzlement charge is the existence of a relationship of trust between the defendant and the alleged victim. Under Orange County law, you can be charged with the crime of theft for taking the personal property of any person, if you do so without their consent, but you can only be charged with embezzlement if the property you are accused of stealing was willingly entrusted to you by its lawful owner because you and the owner had a relationship of trust.
Penalties for an Embezzlement Conviction in Orange County
The penalties associated with an Orange County embezzlement conviction vary depending on a number of factors, including the amount of loss involved in the crime and who it is that commits the crime. Because embezzlement is technically a type of theft involving the act of unlawfully taking property that belongs to someone else, the crime is punished as a form of Orange County petty theft or Orange County grand theft. Embezzlement as a form of petty theft is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Embezzlement as a form of grand theft, however, is a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. Misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement in Orange County is a crime punishable by up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, while felony grand theft embezzlement can result in a county jail sentence of up to three years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Orange County Embezzlement Defense
Embezzlement is an extremely serious crime and even though embezzlement charges aren’t always the result of high-profile business executives stealing millions of dollars, the consequences of an embezzlement conviction can still be severe. Fortunately, there are a number of legal defenses that can be used to fight Orange County embezzlement charges, and your attorney can use one or more of these defenses to challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you. Remember that under Orange County law, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof in your case lies with the prosecutor. That means, in order to get a “guilty” verdict for the crime of embezzlement, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each individual element of the crime:
- An owner of property entrusted their property to you;
- The owner did so because he or she trusted you;
- You then took that property and used it for your own benefit; and
- You did so with the specific intent of depriving the owner of the property or its use.
Best Defense Strategies in Orange County Embezzlement Cases
Being arrested for embezzlement may feel like your life is over, but it is important to remember that you still have rights, one of the most critical being your right to hire an attorney. But don’t trust your embezzlement case to just any attorney. You need a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who has experience defending embezzlement cases and who will examine every aspect of your case to determine the best possible defense strategy. Some possible defenses your attorney may use to fight your embezzlement charges include the following:
- False accusation – If the owner of the property or someone else falsely accused you of stealing the property in question, you cannot lawfully be found guilty of embezzlement.
- Lack of intent – If you did not intend to take the property you are accused of stealing, you would not be criminally liable under Orange County embezzlement law.
- Consent – If the owner of the property gave you permission to take the property, your attorney may be able to get your embezzlement charges dismissed.
- Insufficient evidence – If the prosecution’s evidence against you is not sufficient to warrant an embezzlement charge, you may be able to get a “not guilty” verdict.
- Claim of right – If at the time the alleged crime occurred, you honestly and reasonably believed that you had a right to the property you are accused of stealing, you cannot lawfully be convicted of embezzlement.
It is important to note that, even if you were only temporarily borrowing the property you are accused of stealing and were planning to return it to its rightful owner, you cannot use that fact as a defense to embezzlement.
How Hiring an Embezzlement Defense Attorney Can Help
Not only can an embezzlement conviction result in a significant county jail sentence and costly fines, it can also adversely affect your personal and professional relationships for years to come. Because the crime of embezzlement involves fraudulent acts and a significant breach of trust on your part, being convicted of embezzlement could destroy your reputation within your community and ruin your relationships with friends and even family. Unfortunately, allegations of embezzlement can follow you for the rest of your life, even if you aren’t actually convicted of the crime or found guilty of any wrongdoing. By hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney with experience defending Orange County embezzlement cases, you can ensure that you fully understand your rights under the law and find out the best way to defend yourself against these criminal charges.
Contact Our Experienced Embezzlement Defense Attorneys
Simply put, the crime of embezzlement or “employee theft” is the act of fraudulently taking something of value that was entrusted to you and that is the type of crime that doesn’t go away very easily. It’s one thing to lose your job because your employer suspects you of stealing, but being found guilty of embezzlement and facing jail time and a criminal conviction can adversely affect the rest of your life. If you have been charged with or are under investigation for embezzlement in Orange County, your freedom and your future are at stake. Contact our experienced theft crimes defense lawyers at Seyb Law Group as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation.