Embezzlement Charges and Penalties in Georgia
Embezzlement Charges and Penalties in Georgia
Embezzlement is a tricky crime in Georgia. It happens when someone takes money or property that they were entrusted with, and uses it for their own personal gain instead of what it was meant for. This type of theft often happens in businesses and corporations, when employees have access to money or assets. Since it’s usually done by white collar professionals, embezzlement is considered a type of white collar crime.
If you’ve been accused of embezzlement in Georgia, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The penalties can be severe, but a good lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. This article will provide an overview of embezzlement laws and penalties in Georgia, so you know what you’re up against.
What is Embezzlement in Georgia?
Under Georgia law, embezzlement is defined as “the fraudulent appropriation of money or goods entrusted to someone’s care” . It requires proof of three elements:
- The defendant was entrusted with someone else’s money or property
- They appropriated it for their own use
- They did so fraudulently and in breach of their duties
Some examples of embezzlement include:
- A bank teller taking cash from a customer’s account
- An accountant pocketing funds instead of depositing them for a company
- An employee making unauthorized personal purchases on a company credit card
As you can see, the person accused of embezzlement is usually in a position of trust, with access to valuable assets. Abuse of that position constitutes embezzlement under Georgia law.
Penalties for Embezzlement in Georgia
How much trouble you’re in for embezzlement depends on two main factors – the value of what was taken, and the type of property involved. Here’s an overview of the potential penalties:
- If $500 or less was embezzled, it’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine 
- If more than $500 was taken, it’s a felony carrying 1-10 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine
- Embezzling public property in breach of fiduciary duties brings 1-15 years in prison and fines up to $100,000
- Stealing motor vehicle parts worth over $100 brings 1-10 years in prison, with repeat offenses punishable by up to 20 years 
- Embezzling commercial crops can result in at least a $500 fine 
As you can see, embezzlement is not taken lightly in Georgia. The potential prison time and fines quickly add up. And if large sums of money are involved, prosecutors often push hard for lengthy sentences.
Certain facts can make embezzlement charges even more serious. These include:
- Victim’s age – Penalties are enhanced if the victim is over 65 or disabled 
- Position of trust – Abusing a high degree of trust, like an attorney embezzling client funds, can increase penalties
- Prior record – Repeat embezzlement offenders face harsher sentences
- Large sums – Embezzling over $500,000 may be charged as a racketeering offense, carrying up to 20 years in prison 
An experienced criminal defense attorney can argue against these aggravating factors to try to reduce penalties.
While embezzlement charges should always be taken very seriously, there may be defenses in your case. Some possibilities include:
- Lack of criminal intent – If you had permission or authority for the transaction, there was no intent to defraud
- Lack of trust – If you weren’t in a position of trust over the property, it may not qualify as embezzlement
- False accusations – Someone may be falsely accusing you of embezzlement out of malice
- Accounting errors – Sloppy record-keeping could make legitimate transactions look questionable
- Duress – You may have been coerced into the transaction by threats or force
An experienced embezzlement defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate the facts of your case to identify potential defenses. Even if they can’t get the charges completely dismissed, they may be able to negotiate reduced penalties or avoid jail time.
The Importance of a Lawyer
Facing embezzlement charges in Georgia is scary. The potential penalties are severe, and prosecutors usually take these cases very seriously. The deck is stacked against you.
But an experienced criminal defense lawyer can even the odds. They’ll carefully examine the evidence and identify any potential weaknesses. They’ll argue to get charges reduced or dismissed, and negotiate firmly to minimize penalties. An embezzlement conviction can ruin your finances, reputation and future – a lawyer can help you avoid this life-changing outcome.
Don’t take chances with your freedom and livelihood. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement in Georgia, talk to a defense lawyer right away. An initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose. Let them protect your rights and start building your defense today.