Grand Theft is the crime of taking another person's money or property, valued at $950 or more, with the intent to permanently deprive them of its possession. Charges for this crime range from misdemeanor to felony depending, in part, on the amount of money or the value of the property taken. This issue is important in cases of Grand Theft by embezzlement.
Legal Definition of Grand Theft by Embezzlement
In order for a prosecutor to prove that you're guilty of grand theft, he/she must prove certain facts:
- There was a fiduciary relationship between the victim and the defendant. The most common situations are employer/employee and elderly person/caregiver.
- The trusted person used the relationship to gain access to the funds or property.
- The trusted person took the funds or property for themselves or transferred them to another individual.
- The trusted person intended to take the funds or property.
Defenses for Grand Theft by Embezzlement
Since 1999, the Law Office of Nicolai Cocis has successfully represented many individuals charged with grand theft by embezzlement or fraud. Over the years, we have determined that some of the most effective defenses available for all Grand Theft charges include:
1. Lack of Intent. There was no intent to steal.
2. Claim of Right. The defendant believes he or she owns the property, either through ownership, gift, or earnings.
3. Consent. There was permission to take or use the funds or property.
4. False Accusation. There is no truth to the assertions.
In Grand Theft by Embezzlement, intent and consent are the crucial defense points. In many small business or caregiver situations, there is no intent to embezzle. Instead, there is a lack of understanding between the parties. The defendant believes her or she had consent to use the property in the manner in which they did, but the victim had a different understanding. Demonstrating there was no intent or a reasonable belief of consent can shift the case from a criminal to a civil setting.
Few prosecutors have experience with business matters and assume that the amount claimed by the victim is accurate. For this reason, it is valuable to have a forensic accountant or other expert review the bank and reconciliation statements of the victim to determine the exact amount in question. The amount believed to be stolen is often overstated and, in many cases, the result of bookkeeping errors rather than embezzlement. Determining the true amount of the disputed funds can reduce the categorization of the crime and the related sentences.
If you are charged with Grand Theft by Embezzlement, contact our law office for representation. Let our experience be the start of your defense. Our office is located in Murrieta, and we represent individuals from the Riverside County cities of Temecula, Menifee, Wildomar, Winchester, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Perris, Banning, Corona and Riverside.