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Fortunately, embezzlement cases can be resolved in many ways.  It is always important to remember that the primary motivation of a victim is to have their missing money returned to them.  In some instances, even if embezzlement has been committed, simply returning the money may be enough to reduce a jail sentence significantly.  In other cases, a defendant may be able to avoid jail time altogether.

The test for proving embezzlement

To prove embezzlement, a prosecutor must prove that an intention to defraud has taken place.  In other words, it must be shown that a defendant had clear intent to take funds or property without consent from the owner and to convert them in a way that was not compatible with the owner’s desires.  A stockbroker who skimmed money off of a client’s account would be guilty, as would a CFO who siphoned off money from a business to buy cars, boats or vacations for themselves.

Embezzlement defenses

In cases where a person takes another’s property but believes they have the right to use and convert that property, and they can prove it, they will not be proven guilty of embezzlement.   A clear paper trail leading directly to the defendant must also be shown for guilt to be proven.  That means in a company where several people have direct access to and are involved in managing business proceeds, it could be difficult to trace activities back to a particular person.  Insufficient evidence is a common reason why embezzlement cases are dropped before they even reach the trial phase.


In other instances, if a person is placed under duress, believing they or a family member will be harmed if they do not commit embezzlement, they could be found innocent.  This could mean paying off a ransom or being forced to participate in an embezzlement scheme under the fear that you might lose their job.

The bottom line is that embezzlement cases require a lot of forensic work, and the best way to give yourself an optimal chance at being found innocent can only take place if you hire a top notch attorney as soon as possible after you are aware you are being investigated or charged.

The Law Office of Ginger Kelley serves clients in Newport Beach, Santa Ana and communities throughout Orange County, California.