Embezzlement generally means the taking of funds for personal use from a a company or organization for which you are entrusted to manage the money. But that is not necessarily a specific criminal statute. The specific laws and citations that constitute embezzlement vary from state to state, or can also be prosecuted under federal jurisdiction.
An embezzlement offense may mean any or several of the following criminal charges, depending on your state laws.
- Aggravated Theft
- Bank Fraud
- Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
- Embezzlement by a Public Official
- Grand Larceny
- Grand Theft
- Identity Theft
- Wire Fraud
The nature of the specific charges can make a big difference in how you prepare a defense if you are accused of financial fraud charges.
The greater the amount of money or value of property stolen, the more serious the charges and potential penalties will be. It depends on the theft laws of your state, but typical thresholds that make embezzlement a felony may be greater than $300, $400, or $1000. Felony embezzlement can result in penalties of more than 1 year in prison.
Enhancements to Embezzlement Charges
There are also aggravating factors that can lead to enhanced embezzlement charges, and tougher potential penalties.
If you are a government employee or public official, you may have a greater fiduciary trust responsibility. Many states have stricter laws for public officials, who are keepers of the public trust and manage public funds.
If you are accused of stealing from a public pension, union funds, or an employee benefit plan, the penalties may be higher, and you could be charged and prosecuted under federal law.
Other enhancements could be theft from the elderly or disabled.
As with any criminal charge, you need to speak to an experienced local attorney who is familiar with the laws that apply in your case, to determine how to best protect your rights.