Using a position of authority or trust to steal property belonging to someone else is a crime: embezzlement. Some people may engage in embezzlement, thinking that nothing bad can happen if they put back or pay back the money or property they’ve taken.
Embezzlement is a serious criminal offense in North Carolina and is vigorously prosecuted. A conviction for embezzlement can lead to mandatory prison time and a criminal record that can follow you for the rest of your life.
If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, turn to the Raleigh federal criminal defense lawyers of Kurtz and Blum. We’ve been defending the rights, interests, and freedom of clients charged with criminal offenses in Raleigh and throughout North Carolina since 1998. Our legal team has over 50 years of combined experience.
When you choose us to help you face your embezzlement charges, you’ll benefit from the extensive and diverse experience that each of the attorneys at our firm has. We use our breadth of experience and expertise in a collaborative approach for each client’s case. With Kurtz and Blum, you don’t get the help of just one criminal defense attorney. You get our whole legal team fighting for you.
Contact or call Kurtz and Blum for an initial case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable Raleigh embezzlement attorneys. We’ll discuss your rights and options for facing and defending yourself against embezzlement charges.
What Is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement falls into the category of “theft” crimes. However, embezzlement is a specific type of theft that occurs when a person in a position of trust over money or property steals the assets they were intended to protect. A person embezzling money or property may either move or convert the property or may simply withhold them from their legal owner.
Embezzlement is different than other types of theft crimes, such as larceny because the person committing the theft has legal access to the money or property that is stolen. Embezzlement is outlawed under both North Carolina and federal criminal law and is considered a form of “white-collar crime.”
Examples of Embezzlement
Embezzlement most commonly occurs in the corporate or business context. Typical defendants of embezzlement charges include officers, managers, or employees. Examples of actions that may constitute embezzlement include:
- Taking cash from a business’s register or safe
- Stealing funds for a sale before it enters the company’s accounts
- Taking company property, such as a laptop or cell phone, with the intent to keep it for one’s own personal use
- Using a company credit or debit card for unauthorized uses
- Disbursing funds to oneself by writing and cashing forged checks or submitting fraudulent invoices that trigger payment to oneself
Ultimately, embezzlement occurs when a person who was entrusted with property steals or misappropriates that property. The fiduciary relationship of the person to the company or organization and their intentional taking of the property or transferring it to someone else without the owner’s authorization makes the act embezzlement. Without a fiduciary relationship, taking property is larceny and not embezzlement.
Criminal Penalties and Consequences of Embezzlement
The penalties and consequences that a person accused of embezzlement in North Carolina may face will depend on the value of the property that was taken and the nature of the relationship between the defendant and the victim.
- If the offender is an employee, officer, or agent of the victim organization, they may be charged with a Class C felony if the property involved is valued at $100,000 or more. If valued at less than $100,000, the offense is charged as a Class H felony.
- If the offender is a treasurer or similar officer of a charitable organization, they may face a Class C felony if the property involved was valued at $100,000 or more. If the property was valued at less than $100,000, they can be charged with a Class H felony.
- Railroad officers who embezzle $100,000 or more of property or funds can be charged with a Class C felony. It’s a Class F felony if they embezzle less than $100,000.
- Public employees and officials can be charged with a Class C felony for the theft of $100,000 or more of funds or property. A Class F felony charge will apply if they steal less than $100,000.
Under North Carolina criminal law, penalties for an embezzlement conviction for someone with no criminal record may include:
- For a Class C felony: Up to 123 months’ imprisonment
- For a Class F felony: 33 months’ imprisonment, or alternatively, community punishment
- For a Class H felony: 19 months’ incarceration, or alternatively, community punishment
An embezzlement conviction may also result in the imposition of fines and costs of prosecution, along with an obligation to pay back to the victim(s) the value of the property embezzled (known as restitution).
If a person embezzles money or property belonging to the U.S. government, they can be charged with a federal crime. Conviction of federal embezzlement carries a sentence of up to 10 years along with potential fines. However, if the value of the property stolen does not exceed $1,000, a defendant may only face a prison sentence of up to one year, along with possible fines.
In addition to the criminal penalties of a conviction, a person may face long-lasting consequences from having a criminal record that includes an embezzlement conviction. When a criminal record shows up in a background check, it can lead to the loss of employment, housing, or educational opportunities.
How an Embezzlement Defense Attorney Can Help
When you are facing a criminal investigation or state or federal charges of embezzlement, a Raleigh embezzlement lawyer from Kurtz and Blum can help. An experienced attorney can mount a legal defense that may help you mitigate or avoid the serious consequences of an embezzlement conviction. We can help by:
- Conducting our own independent investigation of your charges to recover evidence we can use in your defense.
- Building an effective, tailored legal strategy with the goal of securing the best possible outcome for you in your case.
- Challenging the weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence to fight for a reduction or outright dismissal of your charges.
- Advocating on your behalf at trial if necessary to pursue an acquittal.
If you find yourself under investigation for or charged with embezzlement, turn to Kurtz and Blum. We’re in your corner.
Contact Kurtz and Blum for Your Embezzlement Defense Today
If you’ve been arrested for or charged with the crime of embezzlement in Raleigh, you need experienced legal representation to fight on your behalf to protect your rights, freedom, and future. Contact a Raleigh embezzlement attorney from Kurtz and Blum today for a confidential consultation to discuss how our firm can mount a strong legal defense against the embezzlement charges you are facing.