Aggravating Factors Of Embezzlement

Embezzlement can be charged as a misdemeanor, or as a felony, depending on the individual circumstances of each case, as well as the amount of money or property involved. However, there are some aggravating factors which can be taken into account. These aggravating factors can make the charges much more serious, and carry more severe sentences.

The White Collar Crime Enhancement

Embezzlement charges can be enhanced in some cases by applying a White Collar Crime enhancement under California Penal Code 186.11. This can only be applied in certain circumstances - There must be a conviction of two or more similar charges in one proceeding. The charges must have elements of embezzlement.. There also must be a ‘pattern of related felony conduct.' The value of the money or property must be more than $100,000.

Essentially, Penal Code 186.11 can be applied to anyone convicted of two or more charges of fraud, or embezzlement, as long as it was during the same trial. You could also face the enhancement, if you have at least two prior convictions related to fraud, or embezzlement. The White Collar Crime Enhancement can increase the sentence by two, three or five years. If the amount of money or property involved is more than $100,000, but less than $500,000, then the fine will be set at $100,000 or double the value of the embezzled funds, whichever is higher. If the amount of money or property is more than $500,000, then the fine will be set  at $500,000 or double the value of the embezzled funds, whichever is higher. It also allows the court to seize your assets as a means of reimbursing the victims, and pay any court imposed fines.

Elder Fraud

California Penal Code 368 concerns crimes against elders, dependent adults, and persons with disabilities. This law includes physical abuse, financial abuse, and any treatment that causes physical or mental pain and suffering. The law defines an elder as someone aged 65 and older. Financial elder abuse is also known as Senior Fraud. The penalties for these charges are more serious than those of embezzlement. Although, like embezzlement, elder fraud can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Elder Fraud involving property or money with a value of less than $950 is classified as a misdemeanor. It can be punished by misdemeanor probation, and/or up to a year in county jail, and/or fines of up to $1,000.

Elder Fraud involving property or money with a value of more than $950 is a wobbler. It can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the case. If it is classified as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to formal or informal probation, and up to one year in the county jail and up to a $10,000 fine and as high as  four years in confinement.  If you are convicted of burglary charges in addition to senior fraud, then it is a strike under the California Three Strikes Law.

Both of these aggravating factors are very serious, and have severe penalties. If you are arrested for any embezzlement, theft, or related charge, you should contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to explain the proceedings to you based on your individual case, and ensure you have the best possible defense.

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Seth P. Chazin is a San Francisco Bay Area Criminal Defense Lawyer with over 25 years experience.

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