Embezzlement, often referred to as a white-collar crime, is the taking of money, funds, or other property that is received because of the individual’s job or their office, and he or she knowingly converts such assets for his or her own use. Put simply, when someone is trusted to manage money or other property and they steal it, it is considered embezzlement.
It’s important to understand that often embezzlement involves more than just one incident; rather it occurs over a period of time. In an effort to hide what is going on, the individual stealing the money or property does so with small funds at a time, ultimately resulting in a large sum of money or property.
Examples of common embezzlement include:
- Writing false checks from a business to oneself and cashing them;
- Overcharging customers and taking the excess fees;
- Using company property or resources for personal gain;
- Creating false employees and issuing paychecks to oneself;
- Stealing company property; or
- Stealing money from a cash register.
Embezzlement vs. Larceny
You may be thinking that embezzlement sounds a lot like the crime of larceny. However, there is one major difference. While both crimes involve the theft of money or assets, an individual who is embezzling has been previously trusted with such money or property.
In order to prove embezzlement, the following elements must be met:
- The accused was in a fiduciary relationship with the victim;
- The accused obtained the money or property through his fiduciary relationship;
- The accused’s actions were intentional; and
- The accused took ownership of the property or gave it to someone else.
A fiduciary relationship may include a relationship with a:
- Financial advisor
- Insurance adjuster
- Corporate officer
- Officer of a charitable organization
- Public or governmental official
- Family member if entrusted to care for someone or handle their estate
The Consequences of Embezzlement
The penalties for an embezzlement conviction depend upon the perpetrator’s relationship to the victim and the amount of money or property taken.
- Public employees and government officials – If more than $100,000 was embezzled, it is considered a Class C felony with a sentence of 58 to 73 months in prison; if less, then a Class F felony with a sentence of 13 to 16 months in prison.
- Treasurers of charitable organizations – If more than $100,000 was embezzled, it is considered a Class C felony with a sentence of 58 to 73 months in prison; if less, than a Class H felony with five to six months in jail.
- Employees, officers, clerks, and agents of a corporation – If more than $100,000 was embezzled, it is considered a Class C felony with a sentence of 58 to 73 months in prison; if less, than a Class H felony with five to six months in jail.
Aside from a prison or jail sentence, you may also be required to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is essentially restoring the victim of what you stole. This can be paid in installments or a lump sum. Furthermore, you may stay on probation until you have completed your payment.
The Attorneys at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Help Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with a Crime
It can be incredibly scary to be arrested, and even more frightening to learn that you are going to be prosecuted under the criminal justice system. Not only the outcome of the case, but the experience itself can have a major impact on your life. That is why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you to fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!