Frequently asked questions

Is embezzlement a felony or misdemeanor?

It's a "wobbler" meaning the DA's Office can file it as either a felony or misdemeanor. The decision depends on the amount taken and your crminal history.

What does the DA have to show to prove me guilty of embezzlement?

For standard embezzlement cases, the prosecution must show: 1. An owner (or owner's agent) entrusted you with his or her property; 2. The owner (or owner's agent) did so because he or she trusted you; 3. You fraudulently converted or used that property for your own benefit; and 4. When you did so, you intended to deprive the owner of it or its use.

What if I intended to only use the property briefly and then return it?

That is not a defense. An intent to deprive the owner, even temporarily, is enough to convict you.

What if I honestly believed that I had authorization to use the property?

A good faith belief in acting with authorization to use the property is a defense. In fact, even if your good faith belief was a mistake or unreasonable, it could still serve as a defense. However, a jury would decide whether you were aware of facts that would make your belief unreasonable in determining whether your belief was actually held in good faith.

What if the property taken was practically worthless?

That's not a defense to embezzlement as a misdemeanor. The property taken can be of any value, no matter how slight. But, if the property used or taken totaled less than $950, your case should not be filed as a felony.

Penal Code 503 and 508 - Embezzlement