Have you been charged with embezzlement in Texas?
If so, you might be wondering about the potential of consequences embezzlement. The truth is, the consequences you might face depend on many factors including the value of money or property embezzled and whether there were any mitigating or aggravating factors involved.
We all make mistakes and being charged with embezzlement doesn’t have to be the end of the world. With the right attorney, you can defend yourself against these charges.
Keep reading to learn more about how embezzlement is charged and punished in the state of Texas.
When you think of embezzlement, you probably think of high-profile white-collar crime. You might think of wall street traders stealing from their clients.
While cases like this certainly can be examples of embezzlement, not all incidents of embezzlement look like this. In fact, in Texas, even livestock can be embezzled.
So what exactly constitutes embezzlement? To put it simply, embezzlement can be charged when you steal money or property you were entrusted with.
The key difference between other forms of theft and embezzlement lies in the fact that the defendant was entrusted with the money or property that they stole. They had legal access to the money or property but didn’t have legal ownership of it.
Embezzlement is punished more harshly than other forms of theft because of the breach of trust that occurred.
As we mentioned before, embezzlement crimes come in many different shapes and sizes.
A common example involves a bank teller stealing money from the bank’s clients. Perhaps the teller takes money from customer accounts and keeps it for themselves.
Other examples include cashiers who pocket money from the cash register or lawyers who steal their clients’ money. Employees or officers of companies that steal company money are often charged with embezzlement.
But not all cases of embezzlement happen in the workplace. Caregivers who are entrusted with the money or property of a family member can be charged with embezzlement.
The State of Texas doesn’t have a specific statute for embezzlement. The crime of embezzlement falls under the laws that describe the criminal acts of theft. Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 31 outlines crimes of theft.
Embezzlement can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the crime or the value of the money or property stolen. If the value of the property is less than $100, the crime will be classified as a class C misdemeanor.
Most cases of embezzlement involve significantly larger amounts of money. If the value of the property stolen is over $300,000, the crime will be classified as a felony in the first degree.
While federal courts often have jurisdiction when it comes to embezzlement, their scope is limited compared to state courts. To be charged with embezzlement at the federal level, you have to steal property that belongs to the United States or a federal department or agency.
Examples of this include court officers failing to deposit money into the court’s registry, bank officers and employees, insurance, lending, and credit institutions.
The type of punishment you may face for embezzlement depends on a number of things.
For one, how the crime is classified helps determine potential consequences. Ultimately, the value and type of property stolen has the biggest effect on the punishment handed down.
The value of the property is calculated using the fair market value at the time of the incident or what it would cost to replace the property if the value can’t be determined. If the embezzlement occurred as a series of incidents, the state will consider each incident an offense and aggregate the money and property stolen to determine potential consequences.
The penalties for misdemeanor embezzlement are usually a monetary fine and/or a year of jail time.
If the amount of property, goods, or services that were embezzled is valued between $1,500 and $20,000, the crime is considered a state jail felony. This means that you could face up to two years in jail.
If the value of the property embezzled is over $300,000, you will be charged with first-degree embezzlement. The penalty for this is between five and ninety-nine years in prison.
When it comes to penalties for embezzlement, there are some special factors that are taken into consideration.
Certain aggravating factors will increase your sentence. In Texas, aggravating factors include:
If you embezzle while working for the government, you will likely also face federal charges.
Mitigating factors include being a first-time offender. In this case, while you would face the same penalties, a judge is more likely to reduce your sentence.
While we hope this article helped you better understand the consequences of embezzlement in Texas, it’s important to keep in mind that every case is different. The individual factors involved in your case will have the biggest effect on the potential consequences you may face.
The information contained in this article is not meant to replace legal advice. Our team has dedicated their careers to helping clients like you. Our attorneys and their staff know the intricacies of Texas law, which enables them to help you build the best possible defense.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation.