Embezzlement is the act of misusing funds or property that belong to another person who entrusted them to you. For example, charging a financial advisor for misusing a client’s funds for personal gain would be an embezzlement case. Facing these charges may have a devastating impact on the defendant’s reputation. 

The amount of money involved in an embezzlement case dictates whether you face a misdemeanor or felony charge. It is important to have a clear understanding of the potential penalties faced, depending on the charges for your situation. 

Factors of a misdemeanor charge 

If your case involves funds or property that are less than $950 in value, then you may have a misdemeanor charge placed against you. In California, this value leads to a petty theft charge, which results in much lower penalties than when facing a felony charge. 

With a misdemeanor embezzlement charge, you may have to pay a fine of $1,000 and a prison sentence of six months. 

Factors of a felony charge 

If the property or funds value of your case is over $950, you may face a felony charge. Classified as grand theft, a felony charge comes with the possibility of a much longer prison sentence. You may face a prison sentence of six months to three years. 

Other factors impacting charges 

When handling an embezzlement charge, prosecutors need to prove intent to pursue a case. Proving a fiduciary relationship existed between the defendant and victim and that the defendant gained access to the funds because of that relationship is key. 

If you had access to a person’s property or funds and prosecutors believe you used it for personal gain without the owner’s knowledge, and if prosecutors believe they have evidence it was intentional, they may go forward with charges. In California, proving one wanted to temporarily withhold property from the owner may be enough to go forward with charges.