Embezzlement is a crime that comes with significant dollar amounts. The higher the value of the money stolen, the greater the potential penalties. People can be tried on embezzlement charges in both federal and state court. On a state level, the potential penalties vary slightly from statute to statute.
When a person is arrested on embezzlement charges, the prosecutor will typically make a request for a specific bail amount so that the individual can be kept from using the bail money for their own purposes. The goal there is to be certain that the individual remains in custody until their stolen money has been posted as bail. As long as they remain in custody, they can’t abuse or spend the money
If you’re suspected of any crime, you should get in contact with a lawyer right away. It’s particularly important with embezzlement charges, though. Embezzlement penalties can be extremely severe, and you’ll want a lawyer to help form a strategic defense and explain your options. A skilled attorney can help to lessen the charges against you or get them dismissed entirely.
The prosecution might ask that the judge give them a surety hearing. This is a hearing that determines whether the bail money has been stolen. One example would be if a person posts $100,000 for their bail. The prosecutor may ask that they have a chance to review where the money came from for 72 hours before the individual is released.
If the prosecutors find that the money used is the same money that the person stole, the individual will not be able to use it as bail money. They will need to find bail money from another source. They also won’t get back the money that they stole. This can put people in a tough position, and they might be placed in custody in a number of different jails throughout different counties.
Consequences of Embezzlement
The severity of embezzlement charges depends on the amount of money that you’re said to have stolen. Different degrees are broken up by different dollar amounts. The higher the amount gets, the more severe a felony it is. The more money you steal, the greater the chance that you’ll suffer a long-term prison sentence. You will have a seriously decreased ability to maintain your lifestyle, even if you manage to escape incarceration or get a shorter jail sentence.
The reason for this is the indelible nature of the crime. Embezzlement crimes don’t go away, and they cannot be filed or expunged from your record. If you’re a public figure, there’s a good chance that the media will follow these crimes or dig them up in your past. This can be devastating to a person’s reputation. As for the legal penalties, they vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime.
The first factor that will be considered is how much money was embezzled. If you embezzle more than a thousand dollars, that’s a class E felony. More than three thousand dollars makes it a class D felony. Over fifty thousand dollars is a class C felony, while over one million dollars is a class B felony.
Another factor taken into consideration is the person’s prior criminal history. In some states, if you have any felony convictions within a certain period of time, a second felony conviction comes with mandatory jail time. A judge will also consider whether you have a history of white collar crime. If you’re a repeat offender, you’re more likely to get a higher sentence. The DA’s office may dig into your past and find other charges to bring against you in addition to the initial embezzlement charge.
All of these factors are taken into consideration when a prosecutor and a judge set a person’s bail and determine whether any plea negotiation will be opened.
Some people have misconceptions about what embezzlement is. One is the belief that stealing from a company will not affect any individuals because the company has enough insurance to deal with the damage. While this does happen sometimes, there are other times that embezzlement can be a deciding factor in a company’s bankruptcy or drastic layoffs. There’s no guarantee that insurance will cover all theft.
People have a misconception that white-collar crime is always victimless, and that white-collar crime isn’t serious enough to be prosecuted. The DA’s office employs special investigators specifically to deal with white collar crime. You can and will end up in prison for years if you don’t get adequate legal counsel.
Some prosecutors are solely employed to investigate embezzlement and fraud offenses. These prosecutors are experts at what they do. They spend their entire careers perfecting cases against defendants. To protect against them, you need a defense lawyer who’s equally experienced.
NYC Embezzlement Sentencing
Of all white-collar crimes, embezzlement is one that is usually the most common within the United States. Although there is actually no actual crime of embezzlement listed in federal law, prosecutors will use various statutes in these cases that relate to specific areas, including bank, securities, wire, and mail fraud, to gain convictions in these situations. If you find yourself being charged with embezzlement, the case will be complex but not without hope. Since there are many different elements that must be proven in court to show this specific crime took place, working with an experienced attorney can mean the difference between spending decades in prison or walking out of court after charges have been reduced or dismissed. Due to the numerous twists and turns these cases can take and the various sentences that can be handed down by courts, always rely on a skilled attorney to help you from start to finish.
Proving the Case
While many people believe simply taking money or property from another person, company, or organization constitutes embezzlement, there is much more needed to prove this crime occurred. Essentially, there are four major elements prosecutors must prove in court to demonstrate embezzlement took place. These include there being a position of trust between two parties, the defendant acquiring money or property while in that position of trust, the defendant taking said money or property for their own benefit, and the defendant doing so in an intentional and conscious manner.
Since Federal Sentencing Guidelines can be complex in cases of embezzlement, punishments are often geared toward just how much discretionary judgment a defendant had while in their position of trust. Under current sentencing guidelines, individuals who would be viewed as having had the ability to use discretionary judgment in their positions of trust would include lawyers who embezzled client funds, bank executives who create fraudulent loan schemes, or accountants who steal money while employed by a company.
While you may assume you had to be employed with a company or working in another capacity within an organization to be accused of embezzlement, that is not the case. For example, if you simply overhear a neighbor’s conversation that involves non-public information about stocks and then use that information to your financial benefit, federal authorities could hold you liable both criminally and civilly for insider trading. If you find yourself in this unexpected and unique situation, do not panic. Instead, contact a criminal defense attorney who specializes in white-collar crimes to schedule an immediate consultation.
Seeking Maximum Punishment
Whenever an embezzlement case comes forth, prosecutors will often do everything possible to seek the maximum punishment against the defendant. This is especially so if the defendant is accused of taking money or property from elderly individuals, charities, or creating fraudulent schemes that left numerous people without their life savings. Therefore, if you are facing these charges, expect authorities to drag your reputation through the mud in an effort to prove their case. While you may feel embarrassed, remember that these tactics do not necessarily mean an automatic conviction. By working with a skilled attorney and discussing the details of what transpired along the way, your attorney can dissect the case bit by bit and possibly get the charges against you reduced or dismissed.
If charged with embezzlement, you may face fines of $250,000 and the possibility of spending up to 20 years in federal prison. Due to these severe penalties, federal authorities will use this as leverage in an attempt to have you confess to crimes you may not have committed. In case after case where embezzlement is alleged, it is found out that a person was completely innocent. In many situations, defendants may have failed to fully understand certain rules or procedures within their jobs, resulting in nothing but honest mistakes. However, prosecutors will not see it this way, and will instead claim your actions were done with the intent of taking money or property for your own benefit. Therefore, never assume that even though you know you are innocent that everything will take care of itself. Instead, put your trust in the capable hands of a knowledgeable white-collar crimes defense attorney.
Since you never know how a jury may rule once a case is given to them for deliberation, work with a lawyer who will do everything possible to make sure your case never makes it this far. By having an experienced attorney on your side, they can examine evidence, interview witnesses, and use experts skilled in forensic accounting and research to prove you were not guilty of wrongdoing. By doing so, they can pressure prosecutors into reducing or eliminating various charges against you. Thus, rather than sit back and have no hope whatsoever, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
Theft Crime: Embezzlement Sentencing Guidelines
In both the federal and state governments, strict guidelines are laid out regarding the mandatory minimums for serious charges. Among these are embezzlement charges. Every crime on the books has sentencing guidelines that judges are encouraged to abide by, and some have additional strict minimum sentences that judges must abide by. The best way to understand how sentencing guidelines apply to your embezzlement case is by contacting an experienced theft lawyer with the details of your case.
Different degrees of criminality have different levels of sentencing. For example, misdemeanors tend to carry much less severe penalties than felonies. In fact, the most serious type of misdemeanor, a Class A misdemeanor, has a maximum penalty of just one year in jail. When it comes to embezzlement charges, the majority of crimes are felonies. As soon as you’ve embezzled more than a thousand dollars, you’re in felony territory.
Different states have slightly different guidelines, and the federal government has their own rules. In most states, the nature of each crime doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether the crime is a theft or a violent offense. Each crime is given a classification of felony, and the majority of felonies come with the same base sentencing range.
For example, in the state of New York, all violent and non-violent Class C and Class D felonies go through the same process. They have the same general sentencing guidelines. But the individual judge in each case is allowed to use discretion regarding the severity of the sentence.
Factors of Sentencing
There are a number of factors that affect the sentence that a person will receive if they are convicted of an embezzlement charge. These are some of the most common:
- Whether the total amount of money stolen exceeds one thousand, three thousand, fifty thousand, or one million dollars
- Whether the person has committed this crime or any other theft crimes before
- Whether the person has been convicted of any felonies before
- Who the money was stolen from
- Why the money was stolen
- What the money was used for
- The long-term impacts upon the victim or victims
The class of felony is determined based on the total dollar amount of the theft. From there, the sentence is up to the judge’s discretion. If the crime was particularly selfish and caused a lot of harm, the person is more likely to suffer a harsh sentence.
Once all of these factors have been explored, there are three ways that the situation can be resolved. One is to have the charges dropped. This will typically occur if you’re able to prove your innocence, or your lawyer is able to prove that the prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to prove you’ve committed a crime.
Another option is to take a plea deal. This is a choice that you may be offered by the prosecution. Typically, a plea deal will be a way for you to plead guilty to a lesser charge and receive a lighter sentence. A prosecutor may offer a plea deal as a way of resolving a case rather than bringing it all the way through the judicial process. You’ll need to talk to your lawyer about why they’re offering the deal and whether the prosecution has a case if you proceed with a trial.
If the prosecution declines to offer a plea deal, or you decide not to take a plea deal, the case will proceed to trial. Both the prosecution and the defense will argue their sides in front of a judge. The judge will make the final ruling on whether you’re guilty or innocent. Should you be judged guilty, the judge will then pass down a sentence that they believe befits the crime.
State and Federal Sentencing
When you’re tried in federal court, the sentencing guidelines aren’t mandatory. However, judges do follow them except in extreme circumstances. Federal cases are more formulaic and don’t involve so much negotiating with the prosecutor.
When you’re tried in a state court, as long as the crime doesn’t carry a mandatory minimum sentence, the prosecution undergoes more negotiation. The individuals involved in the situation have more of an ongoing conversation. Even in cases involving predicate felons, this negotiation process remains intact, though it does tend to have limits. Federal attorneys can negotiate with prosecutors regarding the sentencing of an embezzlement charge, but there tends to be more leeway in a state negotiation.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Some states have mandatory minimum sentences for embezzlement charges. One example is New York. In New York, if you embezzle more than a million dollars, you’ll be subject to a mandatory one to three years in prison, with a maximum twenty-five years in prison.
NYC Embezzlement Charges
Theft Crime: Embezzlement Charges
Embezzlement cases are treated harshly by prosecutors. Theft is theft, whether you steal the money from a person on the street or from a company. White collar crime is not considered any less immoral than street crime. In fact, there are special investigators who do nothing except investigate white collar crime for their districts. People might work in the financial sector, manage hedge funds, or engage in any other kind of corporate work, but that doesn’t mean that they’re immune from the due process of the law.
Embezzlement charges are severe enough that you could be looking at multiple years in prison. The second you find out you’re being investigated, whether you’ve committed the acts in question or not, you should get in contact with a lawyer. If you don’t find out about the investigation until you’re arrested, make sure you invoke your right to an attorney. Don’t speak to the police without your lawyer present.
Embezzlement crimes can have a severe impact on a victim. There are people who have had their livelihoods and entire lives ruined due to another person’s embezzling. They have lost their family homes, been unable to provide for their loved ones, and even struggled to put food on the table.
Some embezzlement crimes have more of a direct impact than others. Small businesses, for example, tend to take a serious hit when people steal from them. A small business doesn’t have the insurance backup to have their lost wages replenished. Some businesses might go into bankruptcy or have to lay off employees who have worked at the company for years.
The amount of money being stolen also has an impact. When just a small amount of money is taken at one time, most businesses and individuals can bounce back. But when the theft is ongoing and dips into a significant percentage of a business or nonprofit’s earnings, it causes serious problems.
These are just some questions that victims of embezzlement often have to ask themselves when their financial troubles are finally realized:
- Can I pay off my student loans?
- Can I pay to go to school?
- Can I pay my rent or mortgage?
- Can I fulfill my legal commitments?
- Can I buy food this week?
- Can I give my kids the financial stability they deserve?
Charges and Their Severity
After you’ve initially been arrested, the DA’s office tends to work with the police and the judges. The DA’s office will build a preliminary case against you through the evidence that law enforcement has compiled. The prosecutor will typically be assertive in requesting certain bail amounts, jail time, certain restitution amounts, information about the person’s criminal record, and the sentence they’ll be seeking for the charges.
All of these things are established at the beginning of a case. The DA building a case does not automatically point to a person’s guilt. An individual is considered innocent until they are proven guilty. The person has not been convicted of a crime until they are officially sentenced. If you didn’t commit the crime you’re accused of, you have a right to a trial to prove your innocence. However, proceeding to trial instead of negotiating with the prosecutors may cause you to risk heavier penalties.
Embezzlement is a white collar crime, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t cause any damage. There may be individuals who have suffered greatly because of what was done. These individuals may have a chance to testify on behalf of the prosecution for the judge. When they establish what they’ve lost due to the embezzlement, the chances of leniency will become lower.
By the time you get arrested, the DA’s office has already compiled enough evidence to make an accusation stick. A competent DA will not jump into an arrest without sufficient evidence. The entire system is stacked against you, which is why you need a lawyer. No one in the justice system will be on your side except your lawyer, who you’ll need to trust implicitly to guide you through this.
Embezzlement in New York
Different states have different statutes and sentencing guidelines regarding embezzlement. New York is a unique situation because it’s home of Wall Street, the financial capital of America. A lot of white collar crime occurs in Wall Street businesses. As such, New York prosecutors tend to be more dedicated to white collar crime than prosecutors in more rural or less corporate-focused states.
The embezzlement crimes committed in New York can sometimes be on a larger scale because of the sheer amount of money and property that changes hands on a daily basis. The state is also home to more financial industries and hedge funds than anywhere else in the US.