'White collar crimes' generally refer to financially motivated, nonviolent offenses committed by professionals in the public or private sector. If you have been accused of a white collar crime, chances are your reputation, business and future opportunities are at stake. Hiring a well-versed, knowledgeable lawyer will greatly increase your chances of salvaging your professional reputation.
Embezzlement (CA PC §503)
According to California law, embezzlement is constituted when a person unlawfully takes property that has been entrusted to them by another person. Although many people think that embezzlement occurs solely in workplace scenarios and involves massive quantities of money, the state's vague wording makes this law applicable any time a person unlawfully takes entrusted property.
There are three elements that must be proven in a court of law in order for a person to be charged with this offense. If any element can not be proven in court, a person has heightened chances of not being convicted of an embezzlement charge. These elements are:
- An owner entrusted his or her property to you
- You decided to use or convert that property for your benefit
- You intended to do so
Embezzlement is committed in a variety of ways. Some examples of embezzlement would be a valet parking worker taking a client's car to run errands, or using money another person entrusted to you to pay their bills to go shopping.
California Embezzlement Penalties
An embezzlement charge could either be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor, it depends on the nature of a case. Like many other theft crimes, the severity of a penalty is determined by the value of the stolen property, which could deem a crime either a grand theft or a petty theft.
If the property is valued below $950 it is considered a misdemeanor petty theft, which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a term of imprisonment lasting up to six months. If the property is valued above $950, it is deemed a grand theft and classified as a felony. This charge carries penalties of a prison sentence ranging from six months to three years.
Misappropriation of Public Funds (CA PC §242)
Much like embezzlement, the misappropriation of public funds refers to people who unlawfully take and misuse entrusted property. The only distinction is that a person can only be charged for this offense if they commit these actions with “public funds,” or government money. State and federal public officials are usually the defendants in these types of cases.
Misappropriation of Public Funds Penalties
This offense is classified as a felony under California law. Upon conviction, one could be imprisoned for two, three, or four years in prison and/or pay a fine up to $10,000.
Extortion (CA PC §518)
Extortion, commonly known as blackmail, is constituted under California law when a person uses the force of threats to compel another person to give them money or property. An example of extortion would be a kidnapper taking the daughter of a wealthy man and claiming to only return her for a large sum of money. Public officials, celebrities, and politicians are frequent targets of extortion.
California Extortion Penalties
Extortion is a felony. A convicted person will be penalized with either two, three or four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Experienced California White Collar Crime Attorneys
If you have been accused of committing a white collar crime, don't fret. Experienced attorney Harris B. Taback will advocate for you in your time of hardship. Call his office at (415) 241-1400 or contact him online for a free consultation.