When most people think of embezzlement, they think of high power executives.
This picture isn’t entirely wrong.
A recent study found that 85 percent of embezzlement cases were committed by a defendant who was a manager or higher.
In most cases, you will also be required to pay back what you took from your alleged victim. Being charged with any crime can leave you feeling uncertain and downright scared.
Knowing what to expect and what actions to take can give you peace of mind. Keep reading to learn more about the charge of embezzlement and what to do if you find yourself charged with this crime in Texas.
The Charge of Embezzlement
Put simply, embezzlement is a type of property theft. Usually, embezzlement takes place when someone who is in charge of someone else’s money or property steals it and takes it for themselves.
In order to be charged with embezzlement, the defendant had to have access to the money or property but was not the legal owner of it, making the action theft. The main difference between theft and embezzlement is that in cases of embezzlement, the thief not only stole money or property but did so while in a position of trust.
The defendant committed the crime while acting as a safe keeper of the money or property and took advantage of their position, which is considered more serious than other forms of theft.
Embezzlement often occurs in situations where the defendant had legal access to handle money or property but had no right to take it for themselves. Defendants might be bank tellers who handle customers’ money, officers or employees of a company who take company funds for themselves, board members in charge of investor money, lawyers who are given access to client money, or even family members in charge of caring for an incapable relative.
If you are charged with embezzlement, you should contact a criminal defense attorney right away.
How Embezzlement is Punished
While the penalty for your crime will depend on the individual circumstances of your case, understanding the general process will give you an idea of what to expect.
In most states, including Texas, embezzlement is punished by a jail sentence, a monetary fine, or both. The specific penalty will be determined based on the value and type of property involved and whether there were any additional or aggravating factors to consider.
Some penalties will be more severe than others. It just depends on what was stolen.
The monetary value range of the property that was stolen will come with corresponding penalties. These include prison time and fines.
There are many types of property that come with harsh penalties due to the nature of the crime, regardless of the monetary value of the items.
An example common to many states is anhydrous ammonia. If this is stolen, regardless of the amount or value, the defendant will be subject to specific penalties because the substance is usually stolen in order to make methamphetamine.
Public records, property that was stolen while there was a natural disaster or a declared emergency, livestock, and firearms also fall into this category.
States often have their own specific laws that assign more severe punishments for embezzlement of unique property types or by specific types of defendants. In Texas, embezzlement by someone who has a contract with the government comes with a more severe punishment than other types of embezzlement.
Aggravating factors can also make punishment more severe. Common examples of aggravating factors include embezzling from a victim in a protected class such as a disabled or elderly person or committing embezzlement when the victim had a higher than average level of trust in you.
Your attorney will be able to give you a specific analysis of your case.
Work With Your Attorney to Make Your Case
In many cases, if you are convicted of embezzlement, you will have to pay restitution to the victim. This means that you will have to repay the monetary value of the property or money that was taken.
While this is often in addition to the jail time and or fines assessed, you may be able to avoid jail time by offering to pay restitution. If you are able to repay what you owe your victim(s), your attorney may be able to get your charges reduced.
Hiring a skilled attorney can increase the odds of this happening. Understandably, many victims of embezzlement are more interested in getting their money or property back than ensuring the defendant serves jail time.
One of the best ways to make your case is to work with your attorney to create a defense. Your attorney will investigate your case and determine the facts to help you defend yourself.
Potential criminal defenses to an embezzlement charge include false accusations, claim of right, and lack of criminal intent. Just because you have been charged with embezzlement does not mean you will be convicted.
Hiring an attorney will allow you to present your side of the story to the prosecution and potentially the jury. An attorney with experience defending clients against embezzlement charges will know exactly what to do to give your case the best possible chance.
Criminal defense attorneys have years of experience and legal knowledge to help you navigate the complicated legal system.
Win Your Case
Although it might seem like it, an embezzlement charge doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. Remember that in the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty.
If you ever find yourself charged with a crime, your first call should be to a Texas-based defense attorney. Your attorney will help you navigate every step of the process. Contact us today for a case evaluation to get started.