The reality of an embezzlement charge

Embezzlement is a type of crime that can quickly become serious. The taking of another’s funds or property — no matter how insignificant the amount might be — crosses the line of legal ownership. It is easy for Californians facing such charges to become lost in the whirlwind of penalties. These penalties can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, often with added fines or jail time. 

As NBC News reported last month, one California woman faced severe penalties after embezzling over $114,000 from a brokerage business in the area. The 51-year-old employee pleaded guilty to a single felony count of embezzlement for maintaining payment invoices of clients from her company. Her employer was not aware of her actions until he received a collections notice from client. The employee claimed the reason behind the embezzlement was to pay off debts owed to the IRS; as part of a plea deal, courts dismissed her felony grand theft charge.

Situations such as these are unfortunate, especially when they involve average working Americans who struggle financially. However, as the Offices of the United States Attorneys website explains, states must consider a number of factors before proving embezzlement indeed took place. First, there must have been a fiduciary relationship or trust between the defendant and the organization. Secondly, the defendant must have acquired the property by virtue of his or her employment. As a result, the dealings with the stolen property must have constituted a fraudulent conversion or appropriation of that property. Lastly, the defendant must have intentionally taken the money or property. The U.S. Attorneys website notes that embezzlement is a specific intent crime, and also points out that the temporary taking of another person’s property with intentions to deprive is no defense for such actions. Despite this fact, each situation is unique and therefore may come with varying ramifications. 

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