top of page

Misuse of Public Funds
PC 424(a)(1) Law & Defense

Information on the crime of misusing public funds is found at California penal code section 424(a). In essence, it is a crime for a public officer, who is entrusted with, or has custody of, public funds, to use those funds for a purpose other than that for which they were entrusted to the public officer.

424(a) [Abbrev.]: Each officer of this state, or of any county, city, town, or district of this state, and every other person charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys, is guilty of PC 424(a) if the defendant does any of the following:
  • Without authority, appropriates the public money to his or her own use, or to the use of another; or,

  • Loans public money and makes any profit out of that loan without authority, or

  • Knowingly keeps  false account, or makes any false entry or erasure in any account of or relating to the public's money; or,

  • Fraudulently alters, falsifies, conceals, destroys, or obliterates any account; or,

  • Willfully refuses or omits to pay over, on demand, any public moneys in his or her hands, upon the presentation of a draft, order, or warrant drawn upon these moneys by competent authority; or,

  • Willfully omits to transfer public money when that transfer is required by law;

Note: PC 424(a)  does not apply to the incidental and minimal use of public resources authorized by law.

Penalties for PC 424(a)

Prison: Misuse of public funds is charged as a felony. If found guilty of PC 424(a), the defendant could face up to two, three, or four years in prison, depending on any mitigating or aggravating actors present in the facts of the case.

Good Behavior Credits: Prison sentences (and work release sentences) associated with misuse of public funds is subject to a 50% reduction of off that sentenced for the defendant's good behavior. For example, If the defendant is sentence to the low term of two years after a conviction of PC 424(a, then he or  she may only have to serve one year in prison if she is on her best behavior.

Probation: A probation sentence is period of supervision instead of prison. A probation sentence is allowed in PC 424(a) cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not a probation sentence is granted to a defendant after a conviction for misuse of public funds, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts and circumstances of the case.

PC 1170(h) Sentencing: If the defendant is convicted of misusing public funds and he or she is not granted a probation sentence , then the defendant must serve his or her incarceration in a state prison (as opposed to a local county jail). In addition, any prison sentence associated with a PC 4242(a) conviction may not be split (served partially out o prison on work release) or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates his or her out of custody sentence).

CIMT: PC 424(a) is considered a crime involving moral turpitude . A crime involving moral turpitude is a crime that is considered morally wrong or involves deceit. Crimes involving moral turpitude have collateral punishments for professionally licensed persons and non US citizens (licensed professionals may have his or her license suspended or revoked and non US citizens my be deported or denied reentry into the country).

Strike Offense: Misusing public funds is not considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Law.

Bail: Bail is the securing of money or property to serve as collateral for the court, which is designed to ensure that the defendant appears in court as ordered. If the defendant does not appear in court as ordered the defendant may have his money or property forfeited. The scheduled bail amount for misuse of public funds is $50,000 or the amount stolen, whichever is more This amount may be lowered or raised depending on several factorsthat are usually  considered at the defendant's first court hearing (arraignment).

In addition to the penalties listed above, if the defendant is found guilty of PC 424(a), he or she could face any of the following punishments: fines and court fees, criminal protective orders (CPO), restitution orders, denial of entry into the US military, civil lawsuits, loss of the rights to own a firearm, and more.

Defense to PC 424(a)

Common defenses to misuse of public funds criminal charges include: mistake of fact (as to the ability to use funds for certain purposes), insufficient evidence, jury nullification, illegal search and seizure, and more.


If you have been arrested or charged with unlawfully using public funds (misuse of public funds), or PC 424(a), contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers will patiently review your rights and defense options and we are available every day  to assist you. Call today!



Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Misuse of Public Funds (Personal Use)

Code: PC 424(a)(1)

Wobbler: No. PC 424(a)(1) is not a wobbler. This means that PC 424(a)(1) is charged as a felony.​


Incarceration: ​PC 424(a)(1) prison sentence range: 2, 3, or 4 years (if probation not granted).

Probation: Probation may be available in PC 424(a)(1) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

PC 1170(h)): No. PC 424(a)(1) is not subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any incarceration ordered after a felony conviction, that is not part of a probation sentence, must be served in state prison (as opposed to a county jail), and the prison sentence may not be split or suspended.

Strike: PC 424(a)(1) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 424(a)(1) is likely a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:

  • Immigration problems

  • Professional Licensing problems

  • Impeachment on credibility


Firearms: PC 424(a)(1) convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm. 

Bail: $50,000, or amount embezzled, whichever is more (San Bernardino County)

Misuse of Public Funds PC 424(a)(1) Criminal defense lawyer attorney sentence punishment penalty jail prison misdemeanor felony Redlands Yucaipa san Bernardino rialto colton fontana rancho Cucamonga Ontario Victorville highland Hesperia loma linda se habla espanol Spanish abogado hs California ca crime penal code

Highland, San Bernardino, Hesperia, Upland, Yucaipa, Redlands, Fontana, Loma Linda, Rialto, Victorville

bottom of page