Deviance describes conduct significantly departing from the norms expected for someone’s social status. Informal deviance involves the deviation from commonly accepted cultural practices and customs. Formal deviance is conduct that violates the law, like violence, vandalism, bribery, theft, or embezzlement, among others. Crime is formal deviation, violating formal laws designed to prohibit behavior that negatively impacts society. California Penal code 503 defines embezzlement as a theft crime involving the fraudulent appropriation of property by an entrusted party.
According to a 2018 study published by a global specialist insurer, over 80% of embezzlement occurs at the manager level or above. Most people do not begin embezzlement when they’re hired; the average embezzler has been with the employer for over 7 years. Nearly 80% of these cases are attributed to more than one person, typically involving three perpetrators on average. One in three embezzlers works in the finance or accounting department. The first formal deviance is often motivated by a financial crisis.
Embezzlement in California
Embezzlers are often encouraged by how easily the first offense went, so they continue the deviant behavior. This is where an individual may pull others into their illicit scheme. Around 70% of embezzlement operations last over a year, and 30% last over three years. Over 60% of the time, the perpetrators are exposed when someone in the company eventually notices that something is amiss. California treats embezzlement as misdemeanor petty theft if the total taken was less than $950.
If the sum taken is over $950 or involves a firearm or an automobile, the embezzlement charges amount to felony grand theft. In California, the penalty for misdemeanor petty theft embezzlement is up to one year in prison. The penalty for grand theft embezzlement is up to three years in prison. In more than 40% of the cases, the employer does file charges against the embezzler.