Embezzlement Punishment and Sentencing in California
Embezzlement Punishment, Sentencing, and Penalties – California PC 503
California Penal Code Section 503 PC does not explicitly state the punishment for embezzlement in California. However, an embezzlement punishment and sentence is determined by whether the embezzlement offense is considered grand theft or petty theft under California Penal Code sections 487 and 488. The severity of penalties associated with a conviction for embezzlement depends on the value of property taken.
Embezzlement Punishment for Grand Theft
In order for your embezzlement charge to be classified as grand theft under California Penal Code section 487, the value of the property taken must exceed $950. The property’s value is determined by its present market value at the time of the offense (when it was embezzled) rather than its original purchase price. Property such as paintings and antiques typically appreciate in value while cars depreciate the moment they are driven off the lot. On many occasions, the victim will overestimate the value of the property or the police will assign a random number reflecting its worth. Therefore, it is important to contact an experienced embezzlement attorney in order to determine the property’s true value.
Grand theft is considered a “wobbler” in California, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of your case and your previous criminal history. If you are convicted of grand theft embezzlement as a misdemeanor, you face up to a year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. If you are convicted of grand theft embezzlement as a felony, you face a sentence of 16 months, two or three years in county jail and maximum fine of $10,000.
Embezzlement Punishment for Petty Theft
In order for your embezzlement charge to be classified as petty theft under California Penal Code section 488, the value of the property taken must be less than $950. If you are convicted of petty theft embezzlement, you face up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. However, if the property embezzled was $50 or less and you have no other theft related offenses on your record, the charge can be reduced to an infraction and you will only be subject to a maximum fine of $250.
Court Options at the Time of Sentencing
If you are convicted of embezzlement, the court has discretion in determining your punishment depending on the circumstances of your case. The court has the following options at time of sentencing:
- The court can sentence you to one of three terms provided by law
- Misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement punishment: up to one year in county jail
- Felony grand theft embezzlement punishment: 16 months, 2 or 3 years in county jail
- Petty theft embezzlement punishment: up to 6 months in county jail
- Place you on probation and impose a sentence of up to one year in county jail
- Place you on probation with no jail time, but order you to do community service, a work release program and repay the value of the property embezzled
- Place you on formal probation and assign you a probation officer
When you are placed on probation the court will impose specific terms of probation that apply to the crime for which you were convicted. These terms of probation will include:
- Violate no law (other than a traffic infraction)
- Visit your probation officer as often as required by your probation terms
- Perform community service
- Pay restitution to compensate the victim
These are only a few of the probation terms that a court can impose as an embezzlement punishment. If you are found to be in violation of any of these terms, the court can sentence you to the maximum time allowed by law.
Finding an experienced California Embezzlement Attorney at Wallin & Klarich
The embezzlement punishment in California can be severe and potentially life changing. If you or someone you know has been accused of embezzlement, you need to contact an experienced defense attorney who will carefully review the facts and the law to give you the best representation possible.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, Torrance, Sherman Oaks, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, Wallin & Klarich has over 40 years of experience in defending our clients against charges of embezzlement. We will carefully review the evidence against you and help you win your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL (466-5245) or fill out our intake form. We will get through this together.