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What is the Crime of Embezzlement in California


Embezzlement in California? (Penal Code section 503)

Embezzlement is a type of theft but it is treated more seriously than shoplifting, car breakins and other victimless crimes. This is because embezzlement involves a breach of trust. The crime is defined in Penal Code section 503. Like most theft crimes it is a misdemeanor if the loss amount to the victim is $ 950 or less. 

The key elements of embezzlement include:

Fiduciary Relationship: The accused must have had a fiduciary relationship with the victim, meaning they were entrusted with handling money or property on behalf of someone else. This makes the crime more serious and it also means that conviction for this crime makes it very difficult to be employed in a position of trust.

Permanent Deprivation of Property: In other words you are not borrowing what you take, you intend to keep it.

Like all theft crimes, embezzlement requires a criminal Intent: Embezzlement involves the intentional misappropriation or theft of funds with the intent to defraud the owner. You can’t embezzle by mistake.  Like all theft crimes, a person accused of embezzlement must have intended to permanently deprive the owner of the money or property.