Have you been charged with embezzlement in the state of Texas?
Don’t panic! While facing criminal charges can be scary for anyone, it’s not the end of the world.
The first step is to understand the embezzlement laws in Texas. Removing some of the uncertainty can bring you peace of mind that everything will be okay.
Working with an attorney experienced with cases like yours can ensure the best possible outcome. Keep reading to learn more about Texas embezzlement laws and what punishments you could be facing.
Under Texas law, embezzlement is considered a type of property theft. Embezzlement can occur when someone who is trusted to manage someone else’s money or property, steals it for their own gain.
The key to understanding embezzlement in relation to other types of property theft lies in the ownership of the stolen property. When it comes to embezzlement, the defendant legally had access to someone else’s property or money, but they didn’t have legal ownership of it.
This means that when the defendant took some or all of that property or money for themselves, they were stealing it.
The charge of embezzlement encompasses both the act of stealing the money or property and the fact that the defendant was in a special position of trust. The legal owner of the money or property trusted the defendant to take care of their belongings.
When that trust is violated and the caretaker commits theft, a unique charge of embezzlement can be filed.
Embezzlement can happen in any circumstance where the above-described criteria are met.
An easy to understand example of embezzlement is a bank teller that illegally uses clients’ money. The bank teller has legal access to the clients’ money, but they are trusted to handle it without taking it for themselves.
If they do so, not only are they stealing, but they are embezzling because of that unique position of trust.
Another common example of embezzlement is when officers or employees of companies illegally take funds that belong to the company for their own personal gain. Embezzlement often occurs when professionals like board members or lawyers who have access to their client’s money take some or all of it for themselves.
It’s worth noting that embezzlement doesn’t have to happen in a business setting. Family members who are tasked with caring for an ill, elderly, or disabled relative can be charged with embezzlement for misusing money that was entrusted to their care.
In the state of Texas, embezzlement is punished based on the amount and type of property stolen. Click here to view the full legal statute (Texas Stat. & Code Ann. 31.03).
Now, let’s take a closer look at the fines and penalties you can face for embezzlement in Texas.
You could face a penalty of up to $500 in fines.
This category also includes stealing a driver’s license or personal ID card issued by any state. You could be fined up to $2,000 and/or face up to 180 days in jail.
You could be fined up to $4,000 and/or face up to 1 year in prison.
This category also includes the embezzlement of livestock with an aggregate value of less than $20,000, official ballots or carrier envelopes for an election, aluminum, copper, brass, or bronze valued at less than $20,000, and firearms worth any amount.
The penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and/or between 180 days and 2 years in prison.
This category includes livestock valued at less than $100,000. You could face a penalty of up to $10,000 and/or between 1 and 10 years in prison.
This category includes automatic teller machines and their components. You could face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or between 2 and 20 years in prison.
You could face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or between 5 and 99 years in prison.
In Texas, if you commit embezzlement and one of the specified aggravating factors was present at the time of the offense, you will be punished by being automatically bumped up to the next higher category of offense. Aggravating factors under Texas law include:
If are charged with embezzlement and any of these factors are relevant, you will automatically face a steeper punishment. The state of Texas views crimes committed under these circumstances significantly more offensive.
If you are charged with embezzlement with an aggravating factor, it is especially important to find an experienced local attorney to take your case.
If you or someone you care about is being charged with embezzlement in Texas, you need an attorney who is experienced with handling embezzlement cases. Embezzlement laws in Texas can be difficult to understand, making it imperative that you have the best representation possible.
While we hope this article offered some insight into the potential consequences of embezzlement in Texas, every case is different. Our blog is not meant to replace legal advice from a dedicated attorney who knows your case.
Our team has dedicated their careers to understanding Texas law and helping our clients get back on the right track. Contact us today to get started with a free case evaluation.