California residents become guilty of embezzlement when they unlawfully withhold assets belonging to an individual who entrusted them with their valuables. This financial fraud often involves a trusted person working in an official capacity taking advantage of his or her position for financial gain.
Elements of proof
The first fact that must become established before a criminal defense for embezzlement becomes necessary is that a property owner possessed sufficient trust to provide the accused person with access to personal assets. The prosecution must also show that the defendant’s fraudulent use of the property for his or her own benefit happened with the intent to deprive the rightful property owner of asset possession. The fraud element becomes established with evidence that the defendant caused financial injury to victims by a breach of trust or duty.
Real world example
A bookkeeper received a 10-year prison sentence as part of a plea agreement for embezzlement and other charges. An investigation into the bookkeeper’s actions revealed she embezzled more than $800,000 from the construction company she worked for over a three-year period. The woman fraudulently cashed 64 checks and attempted to cash three others without permission to access the money.
The end of the woman’s run began in July 2019 when her employer reported missing $47,000. The bookkeeper obtained the money by cashing checks intended for vendors and depositing the money in her account.
Both the judge and district attorney overseeing the case had strong words for the woman’s actions once the case was complete. The judge expressed his belief that the amount of money stolen from the construction company was enough to justify the decade-long prison sentence. The DA expressed sympathy for the construction company owner and acknowledged the devastation to the company. The DA also spoke of how much worse the case seemed once considering the business owner’s trust level for his bookkeeper.
Individuals accused of embezzlement will need to mount a defense for themselves to protect against the damage possible to both their careers and their personal reputations. Individuals who find themselves in such a position may find a criminal defense attorney helpful at planning a defense.