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Embezzlement and Fraud Penalties in California

Posted in Criminal Defense,Embezzlement and Fraud on March 29, 2019

In California, white-collar crimes can be difficult to prosecute. Embezzlement and fraud penalties vary from case to case and depend on a number of factors. The more grievous the crime is, the more severe the penalty will be.

California Law on Embezzlement and Fraud

In California, you commit an act of embezzlement if you fraudulently appropriate property belonging to someone else that has been entrusted to you. For example, stealing large sums of money while serving as treasurer of an organization is a form of embezzlement. Embezzlement charges can include grand theft, petty theft, forgery, burglary, and many other associated crimes.

In the state of California, you commit an act of fraud when you cause harm or loss to another person, you commit an act that results in an unfair benefit to yourself, or both. California classifies fraud as crimes motivated by financial gain or the desire to escape criminal consequences. Fraud can include check fraud, identity theft, health insurance fraud, securities fraud, and foreclosure fraud, among many other offenses.

Potential Consequences for Embezzlement in California

In California, embezzlement punishment depends on many factors. You can receive an embezzlement charge under grand theft and petty theft. The punishment for these offenses may increase based on certain aggravating factors, such as embezzling from an elderly or dependent person.

You can face penalties for grand theft if you embezzled property worth more than $950, an automobile, or a firearm. If you embezzle smaller sums over a 12-month period totaling $950 from an employer, you can receive a grand theft charge. This crime can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. Grand theft is always a felony when it involves a firearm.

You can receive probation, up to one year in jail, and/or a fine up to $1,000 for misdemeanor grand theft. For felony grand theft, you can receive probation, up to three years in jail, and/or a fine up to $10,000.

In California, you receive a charge for petty theft if the embezzlement does not meet the definition of grand theft. Petty theft is always a misdemeanor. You can receive probation, up to six months in jail, and/or a fine up to $1,000 if you commit petty theft.

Potential Consequences for Fraud in California

In California the penalties for fraud vary widely based on the type of fraud. The state charges fraud as a misdemeanor or a felony based on the facts and circumstances of the case and your criminal history. In most cases, you can face high fines and lengthy prison sentences if you are guilty of fraud.

Examples of penalties for fraud in California include the following.

  • Misdemeanor identity theft is punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Felony identity theft is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Misdemeanor foreclosure fraud is punishable by up to one year in jail and $10,000 in fines.
  • Felony foreclosure fraud is punishable by up to three years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • California securities fraud penalties can range between three years and five years in prison and fines between $1 million and $10 million.

When Does Fraud Become a Felony?

In most cases, fraud that involves large sums of money or takes advantage of vulnerable or dependent persons is a felony. If the accused person has a history of committing fraud new charges are more likely to be treated as felonies. First-time fraud, small sums of money, and less harm caused usually constitute misdemeanors

If you are facing embezzlement or fraud charges in California, do not wait to seek help. Hire a San Bernardino criminal defense attorney to assist you with your case and argue for lower penalties on your behalf.