Dealing With An Accusation Of Misappropriation Of Public Funds In Los Angeles
Handling and overseeing large amounts of public funds is a common occurrence for those working as public officials. These individuals are entrusted with positions requiring the trust of the public, performing their duties with very limited oversight. It is possible for them to intentionally or unintentionally violate this trust by unlawfully enriching themselves with public funds. Unfortunately, California has seen a number of high-profile cases involving powerful public officials found guilty of misappropriating public funds. Resultantly, law enforcement, prosecutors, as well as government watchdog organizations, are vigilant when it comes to detecting and preventing these types of crimes.
Public funds are funds utilized in all political divisions of a government entity. These funds are derived from taxes collected for public purposes. Public funds represent government revenue or money used by a municipal corporation or a government entity for the acquisition of goods and services for mutual needs of citizens in a community. In addition, it can refer to any type of stocks, bonds or securities purchased with tax revenue by a government entity.
According to California Penal Code Section 424 PC, a defendant who holds an officer position within a government district, town, city, county, or state can violate the code. A defendant can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount of funds misappropriated. Misappropriation of public funds happens when a defendant has appropriated public funds or part of it for their personal usage, loaned public funds, utilized public funds in ways not permitted by the law, knowingly maintained a false account, refused to use public funds for payment of legal drafts orders or warrants lawfully drawn upon by an authorized authority, and refused to transfer public funds when and where required by law. If found guilty, a person could face felony probation, spend up to four years in a California state prison, and pay a fine of up to $10,000. A guilty person may also have to pay restitution, which is separate from any fines imposed. They may not be allowed to hold any public office in California again.
Being charged with misappropriation of public funds can cause serious damage to a public official’s career and life. One common defense used by legal defense is that the public official was not aware or was unintentionally negligent in handling public funds. A person may be confused with changes in the rules associated with handling public funds. It is not considered criminal negligence if a person did not make an effort to discover if what they were doing was illegal, or if they believed what they were doing was legal.
It is important to seek the right legal assistance if a public official is accused of misappropriation of public funds. With the correct legal defense team, any damage can be mitigated.
The Legal Definition
The misappropriation of public funds refers to California Penal Code Section 424 PC. Violation of this code occurs when a defendant holds an officer position within a government district, town, city, county or state, and their position’s responsibilities include the disbursement, receipt, transfer, or safekeeping of public funds. Cases of misappropriation can occur when a defendant appropriated public funds for their own use or loaned some portion of them; used public funds not permitted by law; maintained a false account of public funds; made untrue entries or deletions in an account containing public funds; refused to use public funds for payment of legal drafts orders or warrants lawfully drawn upon by an authorized authority; refused to transfer public funds when required by law, or refused to pay individuals who were legally entitled to such public funds.
Penalties for Misappropriation of Public Funds
It is possible for a person found guilty of misappropriation of public funds to be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor. The type of charge depends on the amount of funds that were misappropriated. If a defendant is found guilty, they could face felony probation, spend up to four years in a California state prison, and be fined up to $10,000. As part of the consequences, a guilty person must pay restitution, which means they have to pay back the money they misappropriated, separate from any other fines they may have to pay. Once a person is convicted of this offense, they are not permitted to hold any type of California public office.
Legal Defense Against Charges of Misappropriation of Public Funds
Being charged with misappropriation of public funds can have serious consequences on a public official’s career and life. One common legal defense is to argue that the public official did not know or was simply unintentionally negligent when it came to the handling of public funds. It is possible in some cases for a person to be confused with changes to rules or procedures associated with handling public funds. It would not be a criminal offense if a person did not make an effort to discover whether what they were doing was illegal or believed what they were doing was legal.
Legal Assistance for Misappropriation of Public Funds
The damage caused to a public official’s career and life by being accused of misappropriation of public funds can be significant. With the right legal assistance, it is possible to mitigate any impact.
CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS