What is Misappropriation of Public Funds?
According to California Penal Code 424, the misappropriation of public funds is a serious offense. The aforementioned appropriation is defined as someone in public office, responsible for a certain fund, unlawfully misusing those funds. In most cases, the misuse is to unjustly benefit the public servant. Misappropriation of public funds is similar to embezzlement; however, an important difference is that the former pertains to public funds while the latter does not have such a limitation. An example of misappropriation is a mayor using public funds to buy gifts for him/herself or any other person
There are several key elements the prosecution must prove in order to charge someone with this crime. First, the defendant must have been an officer of either the district, town, city, county, or state. Second, the officer must have been responsible for public funds. Third, the defendant must have misappropriated all or some of the money for personal use or for another unlawful purpose.
Punishment and Defenses for Misappropriating Public Funds
California Penal Code 424 defines this form of misappropriation as a felony crime. If convicted, the perpetrator faces up to four years in a California state prison facility and can also pay a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are wrongly charged with misappropriating public funds, it is imperative to seek the immediate counsel of an experienced attorney. Possible defenses used previously by defense attorneys include proving that either the misappropriation was incidental or that the defendant did not have the required criminal intent to commit this crime.