These Are The Four Main Elements of Embezzlement

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Embezzlement is a complex crime. To get a conviction, four main factors must be present in the offense. If these factors are present and a conviction is made, the consequences are serious.

Element 1: Fiduciary Relationship

In order for a theft crime to be considered embezzlement, it must be found that the alleged offender had a fiduciary relationship with the victim. This means that the alleged offender was trusted by the victim; there was a legal or ethical relationship.

Element 2: Offense Through Trust

The next crucial element is that the alleged offender must have been able to commit the theft because of their relationship with the victim. In other words, the individual was only able to steal money from their employer’s company because they were trusted with bank information. This is different than if the alleged offender broke into the office and stole money. For the latter, no relationship is necessary.

Element 3: Intent

In order for theft to be considered embezzlement, it must have been intentional. A simple mistake in calculations will not be enough to warrant criminal charges. The prosecutors will have to prove that the alleged offender intentionally falsified records, or otherwise committed acts that led to embezzlement.

Element 4: Ownership of Property

It must be proven that the alleged offender:

  • Took or claimed ownership of the stolen property
  • Gave the property away
  • Destroyed property

In other words, it must be clear that the alleged offender intended to permanently deprive the alleged victim of the property.

Penalties for Embezzlement

The potential penalties for embezzlement vary depending on the value of the good stolen. California Penal Code 503 PC clarifies that all offenses involving over $950 worth of property are felony offenses, punishable by up to 3 years in prison.

Individuals facing criminal consequences of embezzlement may also be facing civil consequences. Civil consequences often involve paying expensive fines and settlements.

Fresno, California Embezzlement Defense

If you have recently been notified of embezzlement charges filed against you, contact us at Schweitzer & Davidian. This is a serious accusation and combatting this criminal charge requires the assistance of experienced defense attorneys.