An embezzlement charge is a form of theft in California. Under California Penal Code §503 it is unlawful for a person to misappropriate property entrusted to them due to their position. It is taken more seriously by courts than that of theft because the person who is stealing is someone who has been entrusted with the property.
For example, let’s say a bank teller has been collecting deposits from customers and putting half into her own account. She will be charged, and most likely convicted, of embezzlement.
Due to the fact that embezzlement is a form of theft, a person who is charged and convicted of embezzlement will be sentenced within a range provided by the theft statute under the California Penal Code. PC §§487 and 488 establish a range for potential penalties that may be imposed if a person is convicted of the charge.
The section a person is charged under will be determined by the value of the property that was embezzled. If it is over $950 it will be charged as grand theft under Penal Code §487. If the amount was less than $950, it will be charged under Penal Code §488.
If the amount is under $950, it will more likely than not be charged as a misdemeanor. However, a charge over $950 may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The final charge will depend on the specific circumstances of the case as well as the person’s criminal history.
For example, let’s say a person embezzles about $2,000 from her work, putting it into personal funds instead of company funds she will be charged with embezzlement. Since it is $2,000 ( over $950) she will be sentenced according to established ranges in Penal Code §487. She has embezzled funds from her previous two jobs and has been convicted before. Furthermore, she has another theft charge for which she was convicted for stealing clothing valued at $1000. Due to the increased amount of $2,000 that she has embezzled and her previous record that shows a disposition of theft, she will likely be charged with a felony.
Felony charges under Grand Theft will have a range up to 16 months to three years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. A misdemeanor charge under the Grand Theft statute will have a range of up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines, or both.
If the property embezzled was less than $950, the person will be charged under the petty theft statute. The potential consequences for petty theft are much less than Grand Theft. The person can face anywhere up to six months in county jail, or a fine of up to $1,000.
The potential penalties for theft are imposed by legislation as a guideline for courts to use. A person may be charged at the low end of the spectrum without ever serving any jail time and a minimal fine. To present the best possible defense consult an experienced Los Angeles Theft Lawyer so that they can prepare a strong argument that will give your case the best possible chance of being reduced or possibly even dismissed.