Embezzlement is a serious criminal offense that can result in a prison sentence and hefty fines if a person is convicted. There are many ways in which the crime of embezzlement can occur, but knowing how to properly handle an accusation of wrongdoing might allow a person to avoid the harsh penalties or, depending upon the circumstances, avoid prosecution.
Embezzlement is categorized as a theft crime in Texas. A violation of the law occurs when money or property belonging to someone else is taken for personal gain by a person to whom it has been entrusted. As opposed to a theft in which an individual takes money or property belonging to another person, embezzlement includes a breach of trust as one of the unique elements of the crime.
An officer of a bank with access to customer accounts might be charged with embezzlement for transferring customer money into the employee’s personal account. Another example of conduct that might fall into the category of embezzlement would be a board member of a charitable organization who converts the organization’s money to his or her own use.
The crime of embezzlement is punishable by fines and jail or prison sentences. The amount of the fine and the length of time a person would spend in jail or prison depend upon the value what was taken. The theft of less than $500 is punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. If the value of what was taken is more than $20,000, the fines imposed upon conviction could be as high as $10,000 and could include a prison sentence of one to 10 years.
The penalties are increased for an embezzlement conviction if one of the following aggravating factors exists:
It might be possible to avoid criminal prosecution or to minimize the penalties associated with a conviction by consulting with an attorney as soon as the accusation is made. If a person waits until criminal charges have been filed before seeking legal advice, this could limit the defense options available to the attorney.
Businesses or organizations that are the victims of embezzlement might be willing to forgo criminal prosecution of an employee or officer in exchange for repayment of the money or property that was taken. Whether such a financial settlement is possible is something that a person accused of committing the crime of embezzlement should rely upon an attorney to ascertain and negotiate.
If you have been accused of embezzlement, then the best thing you can do is speak with a qualified legal representative. Reach out to Rand Mintzer today for a free legal consultation session by calling 713-862-8880.