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Embezzlement: what is it and what are the consequences?

| Sep 24, 2020 | White-collar crimes

Generally, the law recognizes any illegal taking of another person’s property as theft. Embezzlement also involves another element: a breach of trust. What is embezzlement, and what penalties do people convicted of this crime face?

What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is type of theft that occurs when the owner of property entrusts that property to a person who takes that property for their own use. This crime is often associated with accountants or financial advisors who were hired to manage another person’s finances or investment portfolio. However, investment can occur whenever someone misuses their fiduciary duty to their employer or client. Charges can involve taking money from the cash register, taking work inventory for personal benefit or transferring money from a business account into a personal one.

What are the consequences of embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a crime both under federal law and under state law, and the whether a person faces charges on the federal level, the state level or both depends on the circumstances of the crime.

Under Texas law, the penalties for embezzlement depend on the worth of the assets stolen. Under this law:

  • Assets valued at under $1,500—Charges at this level are a misdemeanor, and people convicted will face up to one year in jail.
  • Assets with a value between $1,500 and $20,000—Charges at this level are a felony punishable with up to two years in Texas jail.
  • Assets with a value between $20,000 and $100,000— People accused of this crime will face 3rd degree felony charges and between 2 and 10 years in state prison.
  • Assets with a value between $100,000 and $200,000— People accused of this crime will face 2nd degree felony charges and between 2 and 20 years in state prison.
  • Assets valued at over $200,000—People accused of this crime will face 1st degree felony charges and up to 99 years in state prison.

Embezzlement charges on a federal level also depend on whether the total value of the property stolen is less or more than $1,000. For theft of less than $1,000, people convicted will face up to one year in federal prison. For theft of more than $1,000, conviction will come with a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

The court usually also orders people convicted of embezzlement to pay damages to the person or organization from which the property was stolen.

Because embezzlement is a serious charge with serious consequences, it is important that people charged with this crime build a legal strategy to defend their rights. If you face embezzlement charges, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about protecting yourself from this serious criminal charge.