Upset handcuffed man imprisoned for financial crime, punished for serious fraud

Breaking it Down: The Elements of an Embezzlement Charge

If you’re facing embezzlement charges in North Carolina, you have a constitutional right to defend yourself in court. It’s important to understand the elements of the crime of embezzlement. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you gather evidence to defend yourself. North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-90 outlines the elements of the crime of embezzlement. To convict a person of embezzlement, prosecutors must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The Defendant Must Have Been in a Trusted Position

One of the distinguishing elements of the crime of envelopment is that the defendant must have been in a trusted position over the property he or she allegedly embezzled. The legal term for being in a trusted position is referred to as having a “fiduciary duty” to the victim. A person with a fiduciary duty has a right to receive the property in his or her role. 

For example, a bank teller has a fiduciary duty when working with a customer. The bank teller has a right to handle the customer’s money when the customer deposits money into his or her account. Similarly, an employee who has the right to manage property, cash, investments, or other business assets is in a trusted position to do so for the benefit of his or her employer.

The Defendant Must Have Intentionally Taken the Property

Prosecutors must prove that the defendant had fraudulent intent. If a person accidentally misplaces his or her employer’s money or assets, he or she cannot be convicted of embezzlement. Specifically, the relevant statute states that prosecutors need to prove that the defendant intentionally, fraudulently, and dishonestly used the assets for a purpose other than for which it was received. 

Prosecutors must show that when acting as the victim’s fiduciary, trustee, or employee, the defendant rightfully received property or something of value that belonged to the victim. After receiving the property, the prosecutor must prove the defendant dishonestly used the item of value for a purpose other than intended. 

Prosecutors don’t have to prove that the defendant used the entrusted property or thing of value to benefit himself or herself. Instead, it may be enough for the prosecution to prove that the defendant took possession of the property and misapplied it. In other words, even if the defendant never used the property for himself or herself, intentionally hiding the property or using it to benefit another person may be enough to prove fraudulent intent.

The Penalties of Embezzlement in North Carolina

The penalties for embezzlement depend on the type and value of the property allegedly embezzled. Embezzlement of property by public officers or employees and embezzlement of property with a value of $100,000 or more can result in lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. If you’ve been charged with embezzlement, it’s crucial to work with an attorney who can investigate your case and develop an effective legal defense strategy. 

Discuss Your Case with an Embezzlement Defense Attorney in North Carolina

To be found “not guilty” or to negotiate a dismissal of the embezzlement charges, your attorney must prove that the prosecutors cannot prove every element of embezzlement beyond a reasonable doubt. Attorney Joel Hancock has extensive experience defending clients facing criminal charges in North Carolina, including embezzlement. Contact Hancock Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation and learn how he can provide you with a skilled legal defense.

Credit card data security concept with padlock

Fraud vs. Embezzlement: What’s the Difference?

North Carolina recognizes several different types of property theft. The specific theft charge a prosecutor will bring against a defendant depends on the case’s unique facts. Two of the most commonly prosecuted theft crimes are fraud and embezzlement. Although these crimes may seem similar, there are important differences between them.

Both Fraud and Embezzlement Require Fraudulent Intent

Fraud and embezzlement are two different crimes. However, fraudulent intent is a key element prosecutors must prove in embezzlement cases. Fraud happens when someone intentionally cheats or misleads another person, generally for his or her own monetary gain. On the other hand, embezzlement occurs when a person entrusted with certain assets intentionally takes the assets for himself or herself.

North Carolina’s Fraud Laws

Fraud can be considered a civil matter. For example, when one business engages in fraudulent behavior to induce another business to sign a contract, the victim can pursue financial damages through a civil lawsuit. However, in some cases, fraud is considered more serious, and a person can face criminal charges. The penalties for criminal fraud charges can include fines, jail time, and having a permanent criminal record. In criminal fraud cases, the defendant is accused of defrauding another person without his or her knowledge. 

Eventually, the other individual will discover that he or she has been defrauded. Just as with embezzlement charges, most criminal fraud cases require that the prosecution prove that the fraud was committed intentionally. In many cases, a person can embezzle another person or company through multiple fraudulent actions. As a result, a defendant could face fraud and embezzlement charges. The defendant could be found guilty of one but not the other or guilty of both fraud and embezzlement.

Embezzlement Is a Crime in North Carolina

Embezzlement usually involves more systematic behavior to defraud another person than is necessary to prove the crime of fraud occurred. Embezzlement is different from fraud because the prosecution must prove that the defendant was in a position of trust when he or she allegedly embezzled money or property. For example, a financial advisor would be in a position of trust with his or her client. If the financial advisor began taking some of the client’s money and transferring it to his or her own personal account, the action would be considered embezzlement. Embezzlement cases vary from a cashier taking $100 out of the cash register over a period of a few days to white-collar crimes involving millions of dollars taken over months or years. 

However, in most cases, embezzlement happens in smaller increments over time. For example, a bank teller deposits small amounts of customers’ funds into his or her own account gradually over a period of six months. Another critical difference between embezzlement and fraud involves the type of penalties involved. 

Embezzlement can be charged as a much more serious crime than fraud in North Carolina because it usually involves multiple fraudulent acts. Depending on the amount of money allegedly embezzled, a defendant could be charged with a felony crime that carries significant jail time. The penalties depend on the type of property embezzled and its total value. 

Charged with Fraud or Embezzlement in North Carolina? Speak to a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

You’ll benefit from speaking to an attorney immediately if you’ve been charged with fraud or embezzlement. If you are convicted, you could face jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record that can make finding housing and employment difficult. Don’t hesitate to contact defense attorney Joel Hancock of Hancock Law Firm to schedule a complimentary case evaluation and learn about how he can fight to protect your rights.

Retail Shoplifting. Man Stealing In Supermarket. Theft At Shop

What Are the Differences Among Theft, Robbery & Burglary in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, criminal offenses related to property and personal belongings are classified into distinct categories, each carrying its own set of legal implications. Understanding the differences among theft, robbery, and burglary is essential for both legal practitioners and the general public. Here are the elements that define each offense and the potential consequences individuals may face.

Theft

Theft, also known as larceny, is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. In North Carolina, theft can be categorized based on the value of the stolen property, ranging from misdemeanor larceny for lower-value items to felony larceny for more valuable possessions.

Robbery

Robbery involves the use of force, threats, or intimidation to take property from another person. The key element that differentiates robbery from theft is the direct confrontation with the victim. The use of force or the threat of harm elevates the offense to a more serious criminal act.

Burglary

Burglary is the unauthorized entry into a building or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime, typically theft, inside. It’s important to note that actual theft or any other criminal act need not occur for an act to be considered burglary; the intent to commit a crime upon entry is sufficient.

Degrees of Offenses

In North Carolina, theft offenses are classified into degrees based on the value of the stolen property, ranging from misdemeanor larceny in the third degree to felony larceny in the first degree. Robbery is generally considered a felony, and the severity of the charge may increase based on factors such as the use of weapons or injuries to the victim. Burglary is also typically classified as a felony.

Consequences and Penalties

The penalties for theft, robbery, and burglary vary based on the severity of the offense, the presence of aggravating factors, and the defendant’s criminal history. Misdemeanor larceny may result in less severe consequences compared to felony larceny, robbery, or burglary, which can lead to significant prison sentences.

Legal Defenses

Defending against charges of theft, robbery, or burglary often involves examining the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense. Legal defenses may include: 

  • Challenging the intent element
  • Questioning the identification of the defendant
  • Disputing the use of force in robbery cases

Whether facing charges or seeking to prevent victimization, awareness of these differences empowers individuals to make informed decisions and ensures that justice is served within the nuances of each criminal offense.

The Attorneys at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Help Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Accused of a Crime

If you have been accused of a crime, how you handle the situation can impact the outcome. Your best bet for handling it the right way is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf. However, time is of the essence, which is why it’s best to contact a qualified 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 learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

man in the self checkout line

Theft Charges in the Self-Checkout Lane vs Traditional Checkout

The self-checkout lane has become one of the most popular ways for many people to buy things. It is convenient and often faster than waiting at a traditional checkout lane. You simply scan your own items, choose your payment method, pay, bag your things, and leave. However, many retailers are finding out that the self-checkout lane can also be a great place for shoplifters to walk out with things they didn’t buy. While many folks may think of shoplifting as a victimless crime, last year, retailers are estimated to have lost over $86 billion in retail theft. While not all of it can be attributed to shoplifting, the average shoplifting incident costs retailers about $460. 

But what happens when you make a mistake and forget to scan one of your items? While it seems like a minor mistake, walking out of a store with an item you didn’t pay for because you forgot to scan it can land you in some hot water, causing you to need to hire a criminal defense attorney.

The Accidental Shoplifter

There are two possibilities when you walk out of a store with something you didn’t buy because it wasn’t scanned. If you went to a traditional checkout line and the clerk forgot to ring up an item, that mistake is on the store. They are the ones responsible for training and supervising the person working the register, and you as the customer cannot be held liable for the mistake. But, if you used a self-checkout, then the issue will be more complicated.

Shoplifting Charges in North Carolina

There are two types of shoplifting charges in North Carolina, but only one really applies to this situation. The first is concealment of goods, which is when a person hides an item either in a bag or somewhere on their person. For example, a shopper might try to drop a lipstick into his or her handbag when no one is looking. That is not the situation here. The other is called larceny of goods. This is when a person leaves a store with an item that he or she did not pay for. This is a much more serious offense than concealment of goods, which is usually a Class 3 misdemeanor if a person is caught.

A person arrested for larceny of goods in North Carolina could face felony charges depending on the value of the items they took from the store. If the amount allegedly stolen is less than $1,000, the person will be facing a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is still more serious than the Class 2 misdemeanor for concealment. But if the value is over $1,000, or was something like a firearm or an explosive device, then the charges will probably be a Class H felony. In either case, if you failed to scan and got arrested, you are going to need to hire an experienced theft defense attorney.

What if your failure to scan was an accident?

If you walk out of a self-checkout line with an item you didn’t properly scan, leave the store, and are arrested, you will argue that you made a mistake. It could be that you tried to scan the item but the scanner malfunctioned. You could have forgotten to scan the item because you left it in your shopping cart. Many newer scanners have a feature that requires you to place all of your items in a bagging area before you complete your transaction. 

However, all of this will depend on the particular facts of your case. The prosecution will try to show an intent to steal based on your actions. Many scanners also have cameras that record your actions during the entire transaction. This will show whether you did anything suspicious, like placing an item into a shopping bag without scanning it first and putting it in a bagging area.

In any event, you are going to want to take extra care when using a self-checkout. Make sure that you scan every item in your shopping cart, and place everything you do scan into the bagging area. In addition, you should check your receipt before leaving the store to make sure you paid for everything you think you purchased. Getting arrested for shoplifting because you didn’t use the scanner properly can be a very costly mistake.

Contact The Hancock Law Firm Today

The Hancock Law Firm is one of the leading criminal defense firms in North Carolina. If you need representation because you are facing shoplifting charges, call our firm today so that our experienced criminal defense attorney can provide you with the representation you need to protect your rights.

man breaking into someone's home

Mitigating Factors for Larceny in NC

North Carolina defines theft, or “larceny,” as the wrongful taking and carrying away of another person’s property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property.  There are many different types of larceny, including:

  • Receiving stolen goods – the act of knowingly buying or receiving a property that is stolen. 
  • Obtaining property by false pretenses – the theft of property by deceit or fraud. 
  • Shoplifting – the theft of goods or services from a store.
  • Embezzlement – the theft of property or money by someone who was entrusted with it. This most commonly occurs with employees of a business.  

Types of Larceny

There are two types of larceny under North Carolina state law: 1) misdemeanor larceny; and 2) felony larceny. Larceny is considered a misdemeanor when the property that has been taken has a value of less than $1,000. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor and can result in a punishment of up to 120 days in jail. Alternatively, felony larceny involves the taking of property that is valued at more than $1,000. Felony larceny is considered a Class H felony and is punishable by up to 25 months in prison. 

It should be noted that the specific penalties associated with theft in North Carolina will depend upon the particular facts and circumstances of the case. 

Mitigating Factors

Even in cases in which the theft of property is not contested, there may still be mitigating factors when it comes to the penalty. Common questions surrounding mitigation:

  • How old the defendant is and what their mental capacity is (e.g., a minor child who lacks decision-making abilities, who picked something up may be a mitigating factor).
  • Whether the defendant intended to steal the property (e.g., the defendant put their coat down and accidentally picked up someone else’s may be a mitigating factor).
  • Whether the defendant has a prior criminal record (if no, may be a mitigating factor)
  • Whether the value of the property was relatively low (e.g., stealing a toothbrush vs. stealing a diamond).
  • Whether the defendant was threatened or coerced into committing the theft.
  • Whether the defendant tried to return the stolen property or offered to pay for it (restitution).

Since the facts and circumstances of each case of theft vary, any of these mitigating factors could possibly result in a reduced sentence.

It is important to note that each case is unique, and the presence or absence of these mitigating factors may not always result in a reduced sentence, but how you present your case and these factors can make a big difference. That’s where an attorney can help. 

Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Larceny

If you or a loved one has been charged with larceny, it can be a scary time. However, it’s essential to understand that you have rights. Your best bet for avoiding or mitigating punishment is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight this charge. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

shoplifter

What to Do If Your Child Has Been Arrested for Shoplifting

Parenting isn’t easy and sometimes children make poor decisions that are out of our control. One call you never want to receive is from the police informing you that your child has been arrested for shoplifting. When receiving such a call it’s easy to feel panic, feeling that your child’s future is ruined. However, it’s important that you try to remain calm and take the necessary steps to protect your child’s best interest, working towards the best possible outcome. 

In North Carolina, the crime of shoplifting occurs when someone takes property without the owner’s consent with the intent to permanently deprive them of their property. The state considers it a type of larceny, or theft. 

Types of Shoplifting

There are a few different types of shoplifting that your child may be charged with depending upon the specific circumstances of each case:

  • If your child was caught with the goods while still in the store, they can be charged with concealment. 
  • If your child was caught with the goods after leaving the store, they can be arrested for larceny. Once someone leaves the store with the goods, it is considered to be a more serious crime. 
  • If the value of the merchandise that your child steals is under $1,000, their shoplifting will be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • If the value of the merchandise your child steals is over $1,000, their shoplifting will be charged as a Class H felony. 

Juvenile v. Adult

If your child is under the age of 18, they will most likely be charged as a juvenile. This means that their case will be decided in juvenile court. Even if your child has committed shoplifting, which is considered a criminal offense as an adult, they would not be charged with a crime. Rather, their behavior would be considered delinquent and instead of a trial they would go through court proceedings known as an adjudication hearing. 

After your child has been arrested, they are still entitled to their rights. Such rights include:

  • The right not to be questioned by the police without an attorney present
  • The right to have a parent with them while being interrogated. 
  • Only being searched if the police have probable cause.
  • The right to remain silent. This is extremely important so that they do not say anything that can later be used against them. 
  • The right to know which crimes they are being accused of. 
  • The right to an attorney for their juvenile court proceedings. This also includes a public defender should they not be able to afford an attorney. 

Possible Penalties

Since children are young and their brains aren’t yet fully developed, the goal of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate them and their behavior. It’s not to punish them. If your child is found guilty of shoplifting, there are different penalties that they may face. These include:

  • Being released to their parents – If this is your child’s first time committing a crime, the judge may choose just to give them a firm warning about their behavior. 
  • Having to pay a fine – You may have to pay a fine on behalf of your child by a set date. 
  • Counseling – Your child may be ordered to attend counseling. 
  • Community Service – Your child may be ordered to perform a certain number of hours of community service.
  • Restitution – Your child may be ordered to pay restitution to the owner of the property they stole for its value.
  • Probation – Your child may be placed on probation. This is more common if they were charged with shoplifting as a felony. 

Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Whose Child Has Been Arrested 

If your child has been arrested it can be a scary time. However, it’s essential to understand that your child still has rights. Your best bet for helping your child is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help your child fight this charge. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Criminal defense attorney speaking with a client

Your Employer Has Accused You of Theft: Now What?

One of the most important things that we have is our reputation. So, when an employer accuses you of theft, it can have a significant impact on your life. This is not to mention the criminal ramifications if convicted. Under North Carolina law, employee theft, or larceny, is considered a Class H felony unless otherwise stated. As such, it can result in up to 39 months in prison. There is clearly a lot at stake. Here’s what to know if your employer has accused you of theft. 

1. Remain calm and don’t overly “react.”

When someone has accused you of something that you haven’t done, it can be a normal reaction to become angry. However, if you respond to allegations of theft with anger, it can actually work against you. It’s important that you remain respectful. If your employer wants to begin investigations and requests that you leave, it’s imperative that you listen to them. Do not react in person or via email; do not involve your colleagues. Bear in mind that anything you say can be taken out of context and/or used against you. 

2. Gather all details that you can about the accusation against you. 

Before you’re able to fight any accusation, you must first fully understand the details surrounding it. Therefore, it’s important that you ask questions to obtain any information you can. This may include things such as what it is that is missing, why your employer believes that you have stolen the item(s), how it is impacting your job (e.g., are you being fired?), how the investigation will be conducted, and whether you are being charged with larceny or any other crime.

3. Understand and consider your rights. 

No matter what you are accused of, you should always bear in mind that you have rights. You are allowed to request to review your HR file. You also have the right to privacy, which means that doing things such as taking a lie detector, is not mandatory. Before you do anything else, be sure to consult with a qualified military law attorney. How you choose to defend yourself can make all the difference. 

Attorney Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Help Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Larceny or Another Crime

If you have been charged with larceny or another crime and believe that you are innocent or that your rights have been violated, you may have options. You have the right to defend yourself. Your best bet of doing so successfully is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you to fight this charge. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

broken car window

Types of Auto Theft in North Carolina

Unfortunately, the theft of motor vehicles in North Carolina is not uncommon. It’s important to understand that there are different types of theft as well as other crimes that may apply when an individual uses, damages, or misappropriates an auto vehicle. 

North Carolina varies from some other states in that it does not have a specific motor vehicle theft law. These auto theft crimes are prosecuted under North Carolina’s crime of larceny, or theft. When a person takes another’s motor vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it or when someone receives or possesses a stolen car, this is considered to be the crime of larceny. 

When someone steals a part or piece of a vehicle that is valued at $1,000 or more, this is considered to be the crime of larceny of a motor vehicle part. This value includes not only the part itself but the cost of labor to have it reinstalled or reattached to the vehicle. Larceny of a motor vehicle part is a Class I felony.

Additional Car-Related Offenses

Aside from motor vehicle theft, North Carolina recognizes and punishes other car-related offenses. 

Carjacking

Carjacking is when someone takes a car by force or threat of force. While North Carolina does not have a specific carjacking statute, it treats such offenses under the crime of robbery.

Joyriding

Joyriding occurs when someone takes another’s vehicle without their permission but also does not intend to permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle. In other words, they don’t have permission to borrow it, but they didn’t intend on keeping it. Joyriding is classified as an unauthorized use of a motor-propelled conveyance and is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense.

Keeping a Rental Car

It can be a criminal offense to maintain possession of a rental car after the time period agreed upon has expired. Again, while there is no specific law for this in North Carolina, the state will often charge this as larceny or joyriding. 

Legal Defenses to Auto Theft

While there are a variety of legal defenses to auto theft, here are some of the most common:

Consent

One defense to auto theft is consent. The individual accused may have had permission or believe that they have permission from the owner of the vehicle to use it. When this is the case, the individual is not guilty of larceny. Generally, when an individual raises this defense it’s because they had permission on one or more previous occasions and believed that it would be reasonable for that consent to continue. 

Mistake of Fact

Another defense is mistake of fact. This occurs when someone uses or borrows a stolen vehicle but is unaware that it was stolen. This individual cannot be found guilty of larceny of a motor vehicle. 

Permanent Deprivation

In order to commit larceny of a motor vehicle, the individual in question must intend to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle of its use or possession. However, this individual may still be guilty of joyriding. 

Consequences

Motor vehicle theft can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. If someone is convicted of larceny, they may face jail or prison, probation, fines, and/or more. 

The Attorneys at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Help Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Auto Theft

If you or a loved one has been charged with auto theft or a related crime, it’s imperative that you contact a North Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You may have a legal defense. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight your charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!