DEFINITION OF EMBEZZLEMENT
When property is entrusted to a person, and that person fraudulently converts that property to their own use. *
* See California Criminal Jury Instruction #1806
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT
In cases of embezzlement, fraud and other financial crimes, it is important to construct your defense immediately. Many people accused of embezzlement are actually set-up as a patsy by the real culprit.
DO NOT DESTROY YOUR RECORDS. In a digital world, paper copies are almost meaningless, and having neat and organized records will help an experienced embezzlement attorney prepare your defense. If you are arrested for embezzlement, the economic crimes division of the San Diego Police or the F.B.I have already built a case against you, so you must act quickly.
EXAMPLES OF EMBEZZLEMENT
MISUSE OF CORPORATE CREDIT CARDS
The most common form of an embezzlement charge is the accusation that a person put their personal expenses on a company business card. Unsophisticated business owners often give employees company cards without clear, written, guidelines - resulting in false accusations of embezzlement.
Skimming is the taking of cash-money before it has been accounted and realized as revenue to the company. Business owners may skim from their own business, and if they have partners, this is a form of embezzlement. A register employee who secretly takes a few dollars from the cash register each shift is "skimming."
FALSE RECEIPTS & FALSE EXPENSES
Employees responsible for company invoicing and payments are often the victims of false accusations of embezzlement due to poor-record keeping. Chronic lack of receipts for expenses, forged or fake receipts, and invoices from non-existant companies are all examples of embezzlement.
PUNISHMENT FOR EMBEZZLEMENT*
Felony - California Penal Code 503
AMOUNT OVER $950
UP TO 3 YEARS AND
$10,000 FINE PER COUNT
FACTORS THAT INCREASE PRISON LENGTH
$65,000+ ADD 1 YEARS
$200,000+ ADD 2 YEARS
$1,300,000+ ADD 3 YEARS
$3,200,000+ ADD 4 YEARS
* PUNISHMENT VARIES SUBSTANTIALLY
BASED ON A PERSONS CRIMINAL HISTORY
AND THE SPECIFIC FACTS OF THEIR CASE
DEFENSES TO EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES
EACH EMBEZZLEMENT CASE IS UNIQUE, BUT THESE ARE SOME OF THE COMMON DEFENSE STRATEGIES
Frequently, embezzlement charges are false accusations brought by distressed business owners who need an embezzlement conviction in order to recover insurance money. Proving a lack of authorization in the absence of clear paperwork and policies is a substantial burden the government must overcome. Inexperienced business owners often lack the formal policies and controls necessary to resolve questions over the use of business funds.
No Intent to Defraud
Absent a confession, intent can only be shown with circumstantial evidence. It is a difficult task to prove what a person is thinking - and the way it is done is by telling a story with the person's actions. The prosecution must construct a narrative that you intended to defraud and simply didn't make a mistake or error in judgment. Similarly a regularly successful defensive strategy is constructing a narrative that you had no intent to defraud. Business executives must be given latitude to make mistakes, or else our entire risk-based-market-system is jeopardized by the threat of a lawsuit for a bad business decision.
Sophisticated embezzlers have a scape-goat. They have a person they can frame to take the blame, creating fake losses and expenditures to make it seem like you have spent everything on yourself... while they make away with the money. Frequently this is accomplished by identity theft, and the creation of bank accounts that you had no idea even existed. Remember to NEVER SPEAK TO THE POLICE. If you have been framed for embezzlement, it is likely done very well, and your statements will be used against you.