Embezzlement charges are very serious. California law defines embezzlement as “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.” A physical act of taking does not need to have been committed.
There are four basic elements that need to occur for an act of embezzlement to be established. First, the person accused must be in a position of trust. An example of this is in the instance of an employee entrusted with company accounts who misdirects funds for personal gain. The misappropriated property must belong to someone other than the accused. Moreover, the act of embezzlement must occur after said property has been placed in the possession of the accused. Finally, there needs to be an intention to defraud.
Embezzlement can involve direct taking of property, such as stealing money from the petty cash box. It may also occur when the individual hides assets from the owner; further, if the property is used for a purpose other than for what it was entrusted to the accused, that is embezzlement.
Penalties for an embezzlement conviction depend largely on the dollar value of the property. For amounts of up to $400 the person convicted may face up to 6 months in jail, along with fines. If the property value exceeds $400, the act is considered a felony, and may result in fines and a jail or prison term of up to 1 year.