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Embezzlement Attorney in
Santa Barbara County, California

Criminal Defense Counsel for Embezzlement
Charges & Investigations

Embezzlement is a criminal charge involving a financial crime committed by a person in a position of trust. It's often considered a white collar crime, but people in many different kinds of jobs and positions of trust may face an embezzlement charge. The amount of money or property involved may be large or small. The definition of embezzlement in California Penal Code § 503-515 is the misappropriation of property by a person to whom said property has been entrusted. An embezzlement offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California, depending on the specific facts of the case and the value of the property involved.

Let a Santa Barbara criminal defense attorney at Andrade Law Offices review your embezzlement charge and explain your best options for resolving the charges to your advantage. In some instances, an honest accounting error, misunderstanding about an investment, or unwritten agreement may lead to a false accusation of embezzlement. The legal team at our firm has successfully defended thousands of criminal cases in Santa Barbara County since our inception in 1987, including financial crimes like embezzlement. We hold to the legal principle that every individual is innocent until proven guilty and we put up a vigorous defense for our clients.

For a free consultation and review of your embezzlement charges, call us.

Examples of Embezzlement

The following are examples of scenarios that may result in an embezzlement charge:

  • A nursing home aid who makes withdrawals from an elderly person's financial account and keeps part of the money.

  • An insurance agent who sells an annuity to an elderly person who is no longer mentally competent to manage his or her own affairs.

  • A cashier at a store who takes money from the cash register.

  • A rent collector employed by an apartment rental business who fraudulently takes the money collected for his or her own use.

  • A bookkeeper at a church or non-profit agency who takes money secretly each month from the cash drawer or petty cash fund with the intention of paying it back later.

  • A trustee who misappropriates money from a trust account for his or own personal use.

  • A public official who takes money from a government bank account to finance a personal vacation or uses a government credit card to purchase gasoline for personal use.

Facing an embezzlement charge is a frightening experience. You may feel overwhelmed about where to turn for help. The charge may have put you at odds with people you know well or work with. You need an experienced Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer who understands that people are sometimes falsely accused or victims of misunderstandings. You need a lawyer who will trust you, not judge you.

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Misdemeanor & Felony Embezzlement Charges in Santa Barbara, California

Embezzlement may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California, depending on the value of the property at issue. You can be charged with embezzling in California even if you had borrowed property and intended to return it. In either case, it is a serious criminal charge that you do not want on your record if at all possible.

The value and type of property that is involved will determine whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. If you are convicted, you will be punished under the sentencing guidelines for petty theft or grand theft under California Penal Code:

  • If the value of the property in question is less than $950, the offense is a misdemeanor and is treated as a type of petty theft punishable by up to six months in jail.

  • If the property allegedly embezzled is an automobile, a firearm or property worth more than $950, the offense will be treated as grand theft. Conviction of a misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement charge carries a sentence of up to a year in jail. Meanwhile, a conviction of felony grand theft embezzlement is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Defenses to An Embezzlement Charge

As former prosecutors and aggressive litigators, our Santa Barbara criminal lawyers are skilled at analyzing the facts of a case and developing the most effective defense strategy.

There are various defenses that may be employed in challenging an embezzlement charge:

  • You honestly believed that you had a right to the property and there is no evidence that you intended to embezzle.

  • You were acting in good faith and did not have the intent to misappropriate another's property.

  • You were entrapped by another person who concocted the plan and then tried to frame you with embezzlement.

  • You were mentally incapacitated at the time. You were taking strong prescription medications and failed to realize that you were depositing checks into your personal account.

In some cases of embezzlement, it's possible to negotiate a dismissal of an embezzlement charge by paying restitution to the victim or to have a charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor to preserve your freedom.

Founding attorney Steven Andrade is a longtime criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor who knows the law from both sides of the courtroom. As a criminal defense attorney, he uses that knowledge to help his clients resolve charges with the least disruption possible to their lives. He knows how to spot weaknesses in the prosecution's evidence and how to present a plea agreement proposal that a prosecutor will find acceptable. He has successfully defended clients charged with embezzlement. You will want that kind of experience and legal skill on your side if you are facing an embezzlement charge in California.

Andrade Law Offices has the skill and commitment to help individuals charged with embezzlement resolve the charges to their best advantage. To learn more, contact us today!