Embezzlement Attorney in Los Angeles
Employee Fraud or Stealing
Simply put, embezzlement is the act of stealing from your employer, also known as employee theft. This is a serious white collar crime carried out by employees who are familiar with the organization and exploit that knowledge for illegal gain. If you are charged with embezzlement, you need a Los Angeles criminal lawyer in your corner. An experienced attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
A criminal defense attorney who is not familiar with embezzlement law in California may not grasp how to obtain a reduction of charges or even a dismissal. In some scenarios, negotiations with the victim can be initiated before criminal charges are filed, resulting in no criminal case being filed. Call Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners for a no-charge consultation to discuss your legal situation and any options available to you.
Embezzlement Law in California
Embezzlement is the "illegal transfer of money or property for personal use." This can include credit card fraud, false records (invoices or accounts) to conceal a theft, stealing small amounts of money or property over time and theft involving a large amount of money at once. Embezzlement is prosecuted under California Penal Code section 503.
In most embezzlement cases, there is a relationship of trust and confidence between the defendant and the victim. If there is no relationship of trust, then you will be prosecuted under the theft law. Examples of relationships of trust include an employer and employee, a doctor and office manager, and a law firm and in-house accountant.
In order to obtain a conviction, the following elements must be proven:
- The defendant had a relationship with the victim/owner;
- The defendant was entrusted with a certain property or money;
- The defendant misappropriated (transferred funds) entrusted to him or her for their own personal use or benefit; and
- The defendant had the specific intent to deprive the owner of his or her property (by fraudulently taking it as their own).
Most embezzlement cases are uncovered as a result of an internal or external audit of the company, whistleblowers, or pure luck. Employees who handle money or the accounting for a company are the usual suspects in embezzlement cases. There are a number of employee profiles associated with embezzlement including:
- Disgruntled and stressed out employees
- Employees experiencing financial difficulties
- Employees who have a drug or alcohol problem
- Employees with a gambling problem
- Employees who are living life on the edge
- Employees who live beyond their means
- Employees who never take a vacation.
Embezzlement convictions can have life-changing consequence such of as the loss of your reputation, professional license, and future employment opportunities. This crime can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties for embezzlement are similar to theft penalties since embezzlement falls under the umbrella of theft.
The penalties vary depending on many factors including prior criminal history of the defendant, the dollar amount stolen, the number of individual thefts from the employer, and the degree of sophistication of the theft(s).
- First offenses involving less than $950 are misdemeanors punishable by a small fine, community service, restitution, three years of informal probation and up to six months in county jail.
- First offenses involving more than $950 can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine, restitution, community service, and one year county jail or 16 months to three years in prison.
- Second offenses can be charged as a felony and are punishable by one year in county jail or even 16 months to three years in state prison.
- First offenses involving less than $50 with no prior theft-related convictions may be reduced to an infraction.
- Offenses involving embezzlement or theft from seniors or disabled adults are serious and can be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies punishable by time in county jail or state prison.
Los Angeles Embezzlement Defense Lawyer
It is important to hire an attorney with experience in embezzlement cases in order to obtain the best result. An experienced criminal lawyer can develop and prepare a defense strategy early in the case. If you are being questioned by your employer or being investigated by an outside agency regarding missing funds at work, you should consult the legal team at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners immediately. Speaking to anybody other than an attorney will put you in a dangerous situation.
Anything you say to your employer or anybody else can and will be used against you in the event that a criminal case is filed. Call our office and arrange for a no-charge consultation with one of our lawyers. We are aggressive attorneys and have successfully defended many clients involved in embezzlement and other theft related matters. We are skilled trial lawyers and negotiators and can help you avoid a conviction and or negotiate a settlement that keeps you out of county jail or state prison.
If you have been arrested for embezzlement, contact a Los Angeles criminal attorney at our office now for a free initial consultation.