If you steal property or misappropriate money in your possession that belongs to another person or entity, these actions may be considered embezzlement. Embezzlement is frequently associated with employee theft and is considered a white-collar crime.
Embezzlement is a criminal offense that consists of two primary elements:
- Being in lawful possession of money or property and
- Unlawfully utilizing that money or property for personal gain
If you do this, you may have committed an act of embezzlement.
Typically, when someone embezzles money or property, they do so with the intent of depriving the owner of their rights since they end up doing one or more of the following:
- Using the money or property
- Selling the money or property
- Giving someone else possession of the money or property
- Damaging the property
- Having no intention of returning the money or property to the owner
Examples of Embezzlement
What is considered embezzlement? Many people get confused about what constitutes embezzlement and what does not, since in all cases the embezzler has permission to handle the asset.
The following are examples of actions that may be considered embezzlement:
- Accessing customers’ accounts and moving the funds into a personal account
- Overbilling customers and keeping the extra cash
- Taking small or large amounts of money from the cash register
- Adding non-existent purchases to an expense account and taking the funds
- Siphoning donations and fundraiser money for personal gain
- Receiving a bribe
- Committing timesheet fraud to receive more weekly or monthly income
- Creating and adding non-existent employees to payroll
- Taking office supplies or property without permission
- Taking another person’s Social Security check
- Starting a Ponzi or kiting scheme
These are not the only actions that may be considered embezzlement. If you have questions about how specific actions not listed here relate to embezzlement, you may want to consult a criminal defense lawyer.
The Penalties of Embezzlement
A conviction for embezzlement may result in a fine, jail time, or restitution. Generally, the penalties depend on the details of the case, the amount embezzled, and state laws.
In Pennsylvania, embezzlement is charged under Chapter 39 of Pennsylvania Crimes and Offenses, which outlines the criminal laws for theft and related offenses. Title 18 defines “theft by deception,” which is a common embezzlement charge in Pennsylvania. This charge deals with embezzlement actions that create a false impression or conceal information in transactions.
The severity of embezzlement penalties in Pennsylvania may be based on the value of what was embezzled:
- Over $2,000: Felony of the third degree
- Over $100,000: Felony of the second degree
- Over $500,000: Felony of the first degree
Additionally, it is important to note that embezzlement can be a federal crime if the assets or monies in question belonged to the government. Federal embezzlement penalties could include fines, paying back the money that was embezzled, and jail time.
Seeking Representation If You Have Been Accused of Embezzlement
You may want to seek advice from a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to understand what is considered embezzlement and what your options may be.
An embezzlement charge can be detrimental to your life and even affect a few of your civil liberties. If convicted of embezzlement, you may spend years in prison and struggle to find employment in the future.
McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. defends people charged with embezzlement. If you hire us to represent you, we will investigate your case for evidence that refutes your charges. We may be able to defend your case on the premise that the embezzlement was not intentional and was the result of a mistake. There may be other defenses in your case options that could allow your charges to be dropped or reduced.
David McKenzie is a former criminal prosecutor who now defends people facing criminal charges. He defends clients against both state and federal charges. Depending on the details of your case, we may be able to keep you out of jail and have your fines lowered.
If you live in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, or other nearby areas and have been accused of embezzlement, call (610) 680-7842 right now to speak to a member of our team. We offer prospective clients a free, no-obligation consultation.
Once we take the case, you will have access to our firm throughout your case via email, text, and phone. Call us today to get started.