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Embezzlement Law & Defense

PC 503 Crimes

Information on the crime of embezzlement is found at penal code section 503. 

To prove that the defendant is guilty of embezzlement, the prosecutor must prove:

  • An owner entrusted his or her property with the defendant
  • The owner did so because he or she trusted the defendant
  • The defendant fraudulently converted or used the property for his or her benefit
  • When the defendant converted or used the property, he or she intended to deprive the owner of the property

In California, embezzlement is defined as the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it had been entrusted. 

Embezzlement is most commonly found in connection  with businesses where an agent of the business has misappropriated customer or client funds.

Sentence for Embezzlement (PC 503)

PC 503 can be classified as a felony or as a misdemeanor. When embezzlement is filed as a misdemeanor the defendant may face up to one year in the county jail. When embezzlement is filed as a felony the defendant may face up to three years in prison. Whether or not the district attorney files misdemeanor or felony charges depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

In addition to a jail or prison sentence, criminal convictions of PC 503 can lead to other severe consequences, including: Immigration issues (for non-U.S. citizens), penalty fines up to $10,000, civil lawsuits and orders for restitution, professional licensing consequences, and more.

Note: The crime of embezzlement is considered a moral turpitute crime, which means that any conviction of a PC 503 charge will have severe and negative consequences for immigrants and defendants who hold professional licenses. PC 503 is not considered a serious or violent crime as those terms are defined in the penal code. Probation sentences (as opposed to jail or prison sentences) are available in some cases.

Defense to PC 503 (Embezzlement)

Common defenses include: Mistake of fact, insufficient evidence, claim of right, consent, statute of limitations, coerced confessions, and more.

Note: It is not a defense to a PC 503 charge to show that the defendant intended to replace the stolen funds. The crime of embezzlement is complete the moment the defendant misappropriated his or her client's or customer's funds. 

If you have been charged with embezzlement, or penal code 503, contact our criminal defense lawyers without delay to learn your rights and options. There is no fee for a consultation with one of our experiened and successful criminal defense attorneys.

Our attorneys also handle warrant recalls, violations of probation, and expungements for embezzlement crimes. Call today!


Crimes Related to Embezzlement Penal Code 503

  • Embezzlement by public officer PC 504
  • Embezzlement by fiduciaries of trust PC 506
  • Embezzlement by clerk or agent PC508

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California Embezzlement Law & Defense PC 503, 504, 506, & 508


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