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The four elements necessary to support an embezzlement charge

California companies entrust employees with company property and money every day as a matter of operational necessity. Sometimes, employees or corporate officers abuse this trust when they devise ways to transfer company assets to themselves or others. False billings, paying imaginary employees and altering accounting records are just some ways in which an employee might illegally move money. This type of theft is called embezzlement, and four factors need to be present to support an embezzlement charge.

Initially, a person accused of embezzlement needs to be in a position of fiduciary responsibility. This means the person’s job was to keep the books, pay bills, manage inventory or other work in which an organization relies on the person to manage assets for its benefit. Next, embezzlement only applies to assets stolen via this fiduciary relationship.

Taking ownership of company assets or transferring them to a third party meets the third requirement. This differs from a person making a costly mistake because the person did not take possession of what was lost. Finally, a charge of embezzlement arises from intent. The person must have purposefully transferred the assets. Once again, it must not be a mistake. It was done on purpose for personal gain in violation of trust given the person by an organization.

If these four standards cannot be proven against a person, then the embezzlement charge might be dropped or reduced to a less serious violation. An attorney representing a person facing an embezzlement accusation might be able to scrutinize the evidence and show that it does fulfill the requirements of the charge. Other ways an attorney could support a person in this situation include negotiating a plea bargain deal and gaining a lighter sentence if restitution can be arranged.

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.