Crimes involving money or property can happen at virtually any type of California business. Theft crimes vary in scope and size; ranging from misdemeanors to felonies and the punishment depends on the value of the items stolen. Embezzlement focuses on deceptive practices and broken trust, which has stiffer legal penalties. If you face these felony charges, you could spend years in prison and hefty fines if convicted.
According to the Department of Justice, embezzlement occurs when an individual uses property lawfully entrusted to him in a manner not in keeping with its intent. This differs from theft in that theft includes taking property unlawfully.
Many people think about funds illegally obtained as a result of payroll fraud, check forging or as the result of unlawfully removing the contents of a bank account as embezzlement. However, there are several areas of opportunity for misappropriating funds.
Cash embezzlement schemes involve holding money from a transaction rather than placing it in a register vault or safe, taking cash from one of those containers and trading fake or stolen documents for real ones. Negotiable document embezzlement includes manipulating accounts by using debit and credit memos, refund authorizations, travelers’ checks and forgeries. Wire transfer embezzlement can involve the alteration or manipulation of a company’s accounts or transfer instructions.
While many cases may seem relatively straightforward on the surface, digging into the details can offer the opportunity for several defenses. The simplest defense is that you didn’t take the money. Despite the scenario, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you took property illegally. If there is insufficient evidence, the judge may dismiss your case.
Intent must exist for the successful prosecution of an embezzlement charge. Without it, you may face a lesser charge or none at all. If you took action because you believed someone would harm your family, proving that you acted under duress may result in an acquittal or a less severe charge. Understanding the complexity of the law surrounding white collar crimes such as embezzlement can help with negotiations and potentially avoid trial.