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Will I Go to Jail for Misappropriation of Public Funds?

Misappropriation of public funds is covered under California Penal Code 424 PC and described as a public officer or trustee misappropriating funds for improper use. This statute is normally used by prosecutors against state and local public officials who are responsible for controlling public money.

Penal Code 424 PC is a felony crime punishable by up to four years in a state prison if convicted.

Further, people who were charged with PC 424 misappropriation of public funds are often charged with similar offenses as well, such as:

Related crimes for PC 424 that are sometimes filed against government employees are Penal Code 67 and 68 bribery of executive officers.

Under Penal Code 424 PC, a misappropriation of public funds crime can occur in many different ways, such as:

  • creating fake accounts or fraudulently altering accounts,
  • use public funds for your own benefit or another person,
  • making a profit from misuse of public money,
  • conceal or destroy a public funds account,
  • knowingly tamper with accounts for public money,
  • willfully refuse to pay public funds when authorized,
  • make unauthorized loans.

Who is a Public Officer?

A public officer is generally someone who is entrusted with public funds. This includes an employee or official of a California state or local government agency, such as:

California Penal Code 424 PC Misappropriation of Public Funds
  • elected or appointed official,
  • rank-and-file government employee,
  • accountant,
  • attorney.

It can also include anyone who is not an actual government employee, but they are trusted to have custody and control of public money.

In other words, any person that has responsibility for safekeeping and distributing public funds.

In order to be found guilty of PC 424 misappropriation of public funds, it must be proven you knew it was illegal to appropriate the money in manner which you acted, or that you acted with criminal negligence.

This means behavior that is more than just ordinary negligence, rather aggravated and reckless acts with public money.

Thus, a common defense against allegations of misuse of public money include that you didn't act knowingly or with criminal negligence.

What are the Penalties?

Misappropriation of public funds under Penal Code 424 PC is a felony crime, punishable by:

  • 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison,
  • a maximum fine of $10,000,
  • formal felony probation.

Further, you will normally be ordered to pay back the amount of misappropriated money and you will not be allowed to hold any public office in California.

Defending Misappropriating Public Funds Charges

This crime is obviously a very serious crime and the police, prosecutors and judges are typically looking to put offenders who are involved in this type of offense in jail.

Penal Code 424 PC controls the crime and has the elements of the crime. If someone is using public funds and misappropriating them in any way for their own personal use or the use of somebody else, or a use that is not permitted for the public funds, they're going to be charged under this statute, and possibly other offenses will be relevant to their particular case.

So, if you or a loved one is charged with misappropriation of public funds, you're going to need to bring in a good criminal defense attorney:

  • somebody who has experience in this area,
  • somebody who knows how to fight these types of cases,
  • somebody who knows how to mitigate these types of cases if the authority has the appropriate evidence against you.

My name is Ron Hedding.  I've been doing this for almost three decades.

First, I worked for the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, then I worked for a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge as his research attorney and right-hand man, and finally, in 1994, I put up my shingle, became a criminal defense lawyer.

I have handled numerous high-profile cases and thousands of theft-related offenses, so I know how to handle a misappropriation of public funds case.

I know what it takes to defend the case if there's problem with it and if the authorities don't have the evidence if my client is innocent and I also know how to mitigate a circumstance where the authorities do have the evidence.

Determining an Appropriate Defense Strategy

I think that's probably the first step in a case — to come into my office.  We'll sit down under the cloak of the attorney/client privilege.

Criminal Defense Lawyer for California Crimes

That's when you will give me all the information you have related to the case.  Not just your story, but the other side's story as well.

In this manner, I have all the pieces of the puzzle to put together and make a decision right from the beginning whether this is a case we must fight, or whether this is a case that we must negotiate and mitigate.

Once we have that decision made, then we will get our plan together.  You'll know exactly what you have to do to help in your defense.

You'll know exactly what type of a plan I am going to execute on your behalf, and we'll both know exactly what we are striving for, what our goal is and how we're going to achieve it.

If you want the best — if you want a warrior in criminal defense who's done nearly 250 jury trials — had many wins and many successful outcomes for my clients, you've come to the right place.

Take the first step now.  Sit down with me, face to face.  We'll talk about everything.  We'll get the plan together to protect you, your family, your rights, your future and everything you hold dear.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.

We offer a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.