Have you been charged, or are you being investigated for fraud or embezzlement in San Diego, CA? If so, you know that the stakes are high. When your freedom and reputation are on the line, Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers will step in and build a strong defense for your case.
For more than a decade, Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers has been standing up for the rights of the accused. Recognized by Super Lawyers, Top 40 Under 40 National Trial Lawyers, and National Trial Lawyers Top 100, attorney Peter Blair also maintains a perfect 10.0 rating on Avvo.
Whether getting charges dismissed or reduced, obtaining a not guilty verdict at trial, or negotiating a favorable plea deal, Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers has helped countless people move on with their lives after facing criminal charges in San Diego, California.
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How Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers Can Help With Fraud or Embezzlement Charges in San Diego
When you’re facing criminal charges involving embezzlement or fraud, you need an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney who will jump into action and immediately start building your best possible defense.
That’s what you’ll get from Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers, named as one of the Best criminal attorneys in San Diego by Expertise.
When you call on our award-winning San Diego white-collar criminal defense team, we’ll:
- Launch an independent investigation into the allegations against you
- Obtain and analyze the evidence that the prosecution intends to use against you
- Locate and interview witnesses and look for other evidence that supports your defense
- Hire experts – such as forensic accountants or fraud investigators – to help support your defense
- Advise you every step of the way of all legal options and help you decide whether to pursue a plea bargain or take your case to trial
We’ve handled thousands of cases in the criminal justice system. We have what it takes to help put you on equal footing with the prosecutor’s office so your rights are protected, and you aren’t tricked into taking a deal that isn’t in your best interest. We are fierce advocates for the accused. Contact our San Diego fraud and embezzlement attorneys today to get our top-rated legal team on your side.
What Are Fraud and Embezzlement in California?
Fraud and embezzlement carry steep penalties and often involve numerous related charges. They can also involve federal charges, subjecting you to more severe penalties.
What Is Fraud in California?
In general, fraud is intentional deception used to achieve an unfair or unlawful gain or advantage. Fraud can be a civil or criminal charge. In criminal cases, the unlawful gain is usually monetary. That could be a direct transfer of funds, or it could be a business advantage or other transaction that leads to financial gain. In any event, it leads to some type of benefit.
In California, there are many different types of criminal fraud charges, typically linked to the circumstances of the alleged fraud.
Fraud can include:
- Insurance fraud
- Bank fraud
- Welfare fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- Workers’ compensation fraud
- Identify theft
- Fraud involving elderly people
- Unemployment insurance fraud
- Mail fraud
- Pyramid schemes
The specific elements that need to be proven may vary depending on the type of fraud.
But, in general, to convict you for fraud, the state will have to prove that:
- You made a false representation of fact, by word or by action
- You intended to deceive the victim by the misrepresentation
- You benefited from the misrepresentation
Like many crimes, fraud may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.
What Is Embezzlement in California?
Like fraud, embezzlement is a type of theft. It involves the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person entrusted with that property. Unlike a regular fraud charge, embezzlement involves the taking of property by someone who was in charge of the property or assets.
In general, to be convicted of embezzlement, the state must prove:
- The property owner put you in charge of, or made you responsible for, certain property
- The property owner did so because they trusted you
- You used deception or fraud to take the property or use the property for your benefit
- You intended to deprive the owner of the property, even temporarily
Several California statutes define specific circumstances under which a person can be guilty of embezzlement. Embezzlement may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
What’s the Difference Between Embezzlement and Fraud?
The key difference between embezzlement and fraud is whether the property was “entrusted” to you.
While fraudulent activity is an element of embezzlement (and you may face fraud and embezzlement charges), to be convicted of embezzlement, the prosecution must prove that the property owner specifically entrusted you with the property because of a relationship of trust.
An example of embezzlement would be an employee in charge of client accounts who collects payments for the company and diverts the money into their personal account. The owner or manager trusted the employee to handle the funds for the benefit of the company.
An example of fraud would be someone going door-to-door collecting money for a charity and then pocketing the money for themselves. No one entrusted them with any money; they simply used deception to take someone’s money.
What Are the Penalties for Fraud and Embezzlement in California?
California statutes may refer to larceny, stealing, or embezzlement, but any crimes involving those terms will receive the penalties established for theft in California. The court may consider aggravating or mitigating factors in determining your sentence. In addition to jail time and fines for either charge, you may be required to pay restitution or be subject to probation.
Penalties for Embezzlement
Depending on the amount involved, embezzlement may be charged as grand theft or petty theft. If embezzlement involves public funds, it will be charged as a felony.
Grand Theft Embezzlement
If the value of the property exceeds $950, or if the property is of a certain type, embezzlement is considered grand theft. Grand theft is a wobbler, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Theft can be grand theft if the property is:
- Certain farm crops and aquacultural products exceeding the value of $250
- An automobile
- Certain farm animals
- Mining claims and other property related to mining
- A firearm
- Taken from the person of another
- Taken by an employee from their employer and is $950 or more in 12 consecutive months
Misdemeanor grand theft is punishable by up to one year in county jail. Felony grand theft can be punished by up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Petty Theft Embezzlement
If the value of the property is $950 or less, embezzlement is considered petty theft. Petty theft is punishable by six months in county jail or up to a $1,000 fine (or both).
What Are the Penalties for Fraud in California?
Fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. There are many specific fraud statutes in California, so it’s best to consult an attorney to make sure you understand what penalties could apply in your case. In general, if it’s a misdemeanor, you may face up to one year in county jail. If it’s a felony, you could face at least a year of incarceration.
Other Consequences of a Fraud or Embezzlement Conviction in California
Almost all crimes have collateral consequences, and fraud and embezzlement are no different.
If you are convicted of fraud or embezzlement, you could face:
- Loss of reputation
- Trouble getting hired for a job
- Difficulty obtaining housing
- Being deprived of your right to vote
- Losing the right to own firearms
- Trouble with immigration authorities
- Losing professional licenses
To fight your charges and mitigate the collateral consequences, call our experienced San Diego criminal defense team so we can get started building your defense right away.
How Can I Defend Myself Against a Fraud or Embezzlement Charge?
The specific defense that’s best for you will be unique to the facts of your case, but there are many possible defenses to fraud or embezzlement charges.
Some possible defenses to embezzlement or fraud include:
- You had a legal right to the property
- Your conduct was not fraudulent
- You were not in charge of the funds
- You did not intend to deprive the owner of the property
- You were falsely accused or identified
- You had permission to temporarily use or control the property
These defenses are focused on the facts and circumstances of the allegations of the crimes.
Other defenses could be related to police misconduct or a violation of your rights, such as:
- Illegal search and seizure (violation of rights under the 4th Amendment)
- Failure to read you the Miranda warning and advise you of the right to remain silent and your right to an attorney
- Entrapment by law enforcement
- Coerced confession
We look for every possible defense – whether it’s based on getting evidence tossed, proving that you didn’t have the requisite intent to commit the offense, or showing that law enforcement botched the case.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a San Diego Fraud and Embezzlement Lawyer
Are you facing fraud or embezzlement charges in San Diego, CA? Your reputation and freedom are at risk, and you need to act fast. Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers has the San Diego fraud and embezzlement lawyers you can trust to do everything possible to fight the charges.
Our aggressive approach to fighting those accused of white-collar crimes has led to getting charges dropped or favorable plea deals that have allowed people just like you to move on with their lives. Call or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.