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Being accused of embezzlement in Los Angeles is a grave matter. Anyone convicted of this crime, sometimes also called employee theft, may find that it is impossible to find employment in the future. Additionally, they may be ordered to pay significant fines and may have to serve a term of imprisonment. With consequences like these it’s easy to see why it’s important to hire a Los Angeles embezzlement attorney. The experienced California embezzlement defense lawyers at this firm understand that your reputation and your ability to earn a living are at stake. We fight to provide you with the best defense possible, and we may be able to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.
Defining Embezzlement in California
Generally, embezzlement is the act of stealing money, products or other assets from an employer. The catch is that the defendant must have been entrusted with the asset before the crime can be charged as embezzlement. Accordingly, a person accused of embezzlement must first accept the responsibility for an expense account or other asset, then misappropriate it or misuse it in some fashion. This means that a person legally has the right to have access to the assets. Embezzlement can be as simple as an employee stealing funds from a petty cash box that is their responsibility. It also may be a salesman who pads his expense account or something more complex such as an accountant who routinely ensures that funds “disappear” from a certain account.
Embezzlement May Be a Misdemeanor or a Felony
Someone charged with embezzlement in Los Angeles may find themselves facing either misdemeanor or felony charges. The most important determining factor is the value of the money or goods that were stolen or otherwise misappropriated. Frequently, if less than $400 is involved, the crime will be charged as a petty theft misdemeanor. Embezzlement involving more than $400 may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the accused’s criminal history, the actual value of the stolen items in excess of $400 and the level of sophistication used in the commission of the crime. The District Attorney may also weigh how vulnerable the victim was when deciding whether to pursue misdemeanor or felony embezzlement charges. If the items or money involved were worth more than $950, it is likely that the defendant will be charged with a felony.
Penalties for a Los Angeles Embezzlement Conviction
If you have been accused of embezzlement, then it is imperative that you hire a Los Angeles embezzlement lawyer immediately. Conviction on embezzlement charges leads to irrevocable and devastating changes.
Someone convicted of embezzlement at the misdemeanor level may be facing as much as one year in jail and fines of as much as $1,000. With a felony embezzlement conviction, the defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of three years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000. Clearly, the state of California considers embezzlement to be a serious crime.
In addition to fines and possible imprisonment, people who are convicted of embezzlement face the loss of their professional reputation. Many firms are unwilling to take a chance on hiring an employee who has a California embezzlement conviction on their record. This may make it impossible for someone with an embezzlement conviction to obtain employment in their chosen profession. Many people have had to choose an entirely different line of work. Even then, finding remunerative employment can be tricky, and many people are never again able to achieve the kind of lifestyle they once enjoyed.
Hiring an Experienced Los Angeles Embezzlement Attorney Makes the Difference
Accusations of embezzlement in California can lead to unemployment, the loss of a favorable reputation and facing imprisonment and fines. Sadly, many people who are accused of this white collar crime did not commit it or did not intend to commit it. Sometimes an accounting error or other honest mistake or misunderstanding is responsible for the appearance of guilt. These accusations can often be cleared up without charges being filed if you talk to a California embezzlement defense lawyer sooner rather than later.