Although some people regard stealing and embezzlement as the same thing, there are some key differences in the eyes of the law.
Stealing refers to taking someone else’s property or money without their permission. An example of this would be taking money from a store or stealing money from a friend’s wallet. Anyone arrested for an offense like this could face theft charges and the legal consequences that come with it.
Embezzlement is a misappropriation of funds. Usually, a person in a position of trust with financial responsibility and the confidence of their employer faces this charge. They may embezzle funds by creating fake invoices, forgery, over-billing suppliers and customers, or in another manner. Although embezzlement is a form of stealing as a trusted employee, the perpetrator abused that trust, and this is the key difference between the two crimes.
Embezzlement occurs in many walks of life. For instance, a school treasurer whose job it is to look after the finances or a trust fund manager or an accountant who manages their clients’ financial investments could all commit embezzlement. Call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. at (610) 680-7842 to learn more.
There Is Different Sentencing for Theft and Embezzlement
Embezzlement and stealing are two separate crimes, and each offense is subject to different penalties depending on their level of severity. For instance, if a person were to steal an item valued at $50 or less, they may face a summary charge, according to 3921(c)(1) of the PA Civil Code. If convicted, the individual could get a short jail sentence or a minimal fine. For a more serious charge as a misdemeanor or a felony, sentences are much longer, and fines are considerably larger. This is a key difference between stealing and embezzlement.
Each state has its own sentencing regulations. In Pennsylvania, penalties for embezzlement are harsh, with felony charges meaning considerable fines and lengthy jail sentences.
However, for a judge to find you guilty, they must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In embezzlement cases, there are four elements of proof that a judge or jury must reach, as established in Moore v. United States (according to archived content from the U.S. Department of Justice):
- The defendant had a relationship with the party from which he or she allegedly embezzled.
- The defendant’s job led to his or her possession of the property which he or she allegedly embezzled.
- The defendant used the property to his or her own gain while it was in his or her possession.
- The defendant intended to deprive the owner of the property from using the said property.
Should you receive a conviction for either theft or embezzlement, your or your family’s lives could be deeply affected. Not only could you be facing prison time or substantial fines, but a conviction that may:
- Be damaging to future job prospects
- Cause reputational damage that may be with you for the long term
- Impact on your friendships and relationships with the local community
However, you do not need to face theft or embezzlement charges on your own. With a criminal defense lawyer on your side and ready to fight your corner, you can discuss your potential defense options and take guidance from them about the differences between stealing and embezzlement.
Call (610) 680-7842 to speak to a team member at McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. today.
How a Defense Lawyer Can Help You
If you were arrested on theft or embezzlement charges, an uncertain time awaits. You may feel anxious, concerned for your own future and that of your family’s, and be unsure of how to fight the charges. A criminal defense lawyer can help. Criminal defense lawyers advocate on behalf of their clients to lessen charges and penalties.
A defense lawyer can also:
- Analyze your case so you understand the circumstances
- Investigate the circumstances
- Talk to your employer to discuss alternatives to jail time
- Develop arguments to limit charges
- Create defense strategies
- Look for any errors in your case or failures to follow correct procedures
- Present your case
However, it is important that you understand that there are no guarantees and a lawyer cannot promise you they can limit the charges or keep you from serving jail time whether you are accused of stealing or embezzlement.
Finding a Defense Lawyer
Whether you were charged with a white-collar crime like embezzlement or you are facing theft charges, you may want a criminal defense lawyer on your side that can stand in your corner with confidence and determination.
A good defense lawyer not only has a deep understanding of the law, but they also know how to defend you and negotiate for the most beneficial outcome for your circumstances, whether you are facing charges of stealing or embezzlement.
For further information, call the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. at (610) 680-7842 today.