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Embezzlement suspect’s rights not violated, appellate judge rules


A California woman will face embezzlement charges despite the fact that a Sierra County district attorney dismissed the case more than five years ago. The associate justice ultimately rejected the defense’s argument that the delay in the case violated the defendant’s right to due process.

In April 2010, the former district attorney charged a Loyalton woman with embezzlement after she allegedly used public funds to gamble in Nevada casinos. Anticipating federal intervention in the case, the DA made a motion to dismiss the charges 16 months later, and the Sierra County Superior Court granted the motion.

The DA refiled the charges in October 2016, more than five years after filing to dismiss them. The defense moved to dismiss on the basis that the delay violated the defendant’s due process rights, particularly the right to a speedy trial. The Sierra County Supreme Court agreed, and a judge granted a second dismissal.

Sierra County’s current district attorney appealed the decision to dismiss, and the 3rd District Court of Appeal decided to weigh in. As it turned out, the associate justice disagreed with the judge, saying that a lack of pending charges meant that there could be no trial to delay. The associate justice also rejected the defense’s contention that the delay led to lost exculpatory testimony, thus making a fair defense impossible. The associate justice stated that the defense was “vague” as to how the testimony was exculpatory and did not think it contained anything “another witness could not contribute or provide.”

In this situation, the case will return to the court of original jurisdiction in Sierra County, and the woman is facing charges for white-collar crimes in Sierra County. Barring the unlikely event that the California State Supreme Court decides to hear the due-process argument, the defendant might arrange a plea agreement or defend against the charges. An individual accused of embezzlement may want to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect their rights and increase their odds for a favorable outcome.

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