What are the Penalties for Embezzlement in Texas?

Theft by means of lying and cheating, as opposed to the use of force or threats of force, has been referred to as a white-collar crime since 1939. According to Chapter 31 of the Texas Penal Code, embezzlement is a white-collar crime that occurs when a person to whom money or property has been entrusted steals all or a part of it.


Elements of an Embezzlement Crime

Embezzlement crimes are unique among theft crimes in that the money or property are not taken directly from their owners. Instead, the owner of the property voluntarily gives the property to someone to manage or hold, and the person violates the owner’s trust by taking it for personal gain. Because of the breach of trust involved in committing the crime, Texas lawmakers enacted statutes imposing harsh penalties for those who violate that trust.

Embezzlement can sometimes be a form of elder abuse. For example, a person may be given written authority to manage and control the bank accounts, stocks and other assets of an elderly individual. Acting without the knowledge of the elderly person, the person entrusted with control of the assets diverts some of the money to an account in the offender’s name. Embezzlement may also happen if the chief financial officer of a corporation takes the company’s money and spends it on personal expenses.


Possible Embezzlement Penalties

Texas criminal laws punish embezzlement based on the value of the property taken. Typical penalties authorized under the law include:

  • A fine up to $500 for property valued at less than $50
  • Up to 180 days in jail, a fine up to $2,000 or both if the property value is more than $50 but less than $500
  • A fine that does not exceed $4,000, up to a year in jail or both if the property is valued between $500 and $1,500
  • A minimum of 180 days up to a maximum of two years in state jail and a fine up to $10,000, or both, if the property is valued at more than $1,500 but less than $20,000
  • A minimum of two years in prison up to a maximum of 10 years, a fine up to $10,000 or both if the value of the property is more than $20,000 but less than $100,000
  • A minimum prison sentence of two years up to a maximum of 20 years, a $10,000 fine or both if the property value is under $100,000 but is at least $20,000
  • A $10,000 fine, five to 99 years in prison or both when the property value is $200,000 or more

Fines and prison sentences increase when the victim is elderly or is a nonprofit organization or when the offender is a public servant or a government contractor.

If you have been accused of embezzlement in Texas, schedule a free case evaluation with Rand Mintzer, Attorney at Law by calling 713-862-8880.