February 5, 2019
Behind the Scenes of Embezzlement Charges
No words fit your feelings when you see your name plastered across the media. The headlines tell the story of a rogue employee. After twenty years with the same company, you’re facing embezzlement charges. Truth be told, the accusations go even further.
Although the following fact pattern is fiction, it could be true. You run the office for a local construction company in Scranton. As such, you handle all of the financial aspects of the business. It’s a great deal of responsibility, and you feel somewhat underpaid.
In the beginning, it was just a matter of helping yourself to some money from the petty cash box. After all, no one would miss a twenty here and there. Meanwhile, you feel shortchanged. Your boss refuses to give you a raise.
Over time, you begin writing small checks. Since you are in charge of the books, you know how to hide the fraudulent transactions. Ultimately, you figure out another way to make up for your personal lack of funds. You use the company credit card to make purchases for your home.
Admittedly, you are shocked when you are arrested and charged with embezzlement of nearly one hundred thousand dollars. How could this be? This not only sounds like serious business – it is. You also face penalties for forgery and unauthorized credit card use.
Once again, there’s no record of this particular story in Scranton, or anywhere in Lackawanna County. However, there’s no doubt that it could happen in any part of the country.
Embezzlement Charges Are White Collar Crimes
You might not realize it, but embezzlement charges fall under the category of white-collar crimes. Some only associate white-collar crimes with fraudulent transactions on Wall Street or theft by high-level executives. However, the definition is far more extensive. It includes stealing from your employer when you are the one charged with managing the financial aspects of the company.
In Pennsylvania, the law regarding embezzlement falls under Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Statutes. More specifically, Chapter 39 covers Crimes and Offenses regarding Theft and Related Offenses.
Several factors come into play when it comes into embezzlement charges. In fact, the amount of money or value of the property stolen determines the level of your crime. For example, say the prosecution can only prove you lifted $100 from the petty cash drawer. What kind of penalties could you face? The following gives you some indication:
- For a first-time embezzlement conviction involving less than $150, the defendant could face up to 90 days in jail. A second-time offender risks up to three years behind bars.
- When the dollar amount increases between $150 and $2,000, the accused offender could wind up in jail for up to five years.
- Embezzlement convictions where the money or property value was more than $2,000 are felonies. This means up to seven years in prison.
The additional charges in our exemplary case involve other criminal accusations as well. Forgery and Fraudulent Practices are also addressed in Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Statutes.
In the meantime, certain embezzlement charges fall under federal laws and can invoke even more severe penalties.
Defending Embezzlement Charges
The bottom line is that embezzlement charges could seriously jeopardize your freedom and reputation. As you can see, one concern involves fighting the amount the prosecution claims was stolen.
However, an experienced criminal defense attorney works to negate the evidence against you so that a jury is unable to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Part of your defense may include proof that you had no intention to commit a crime.