Can I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?August 11, 2021
Do you know the difference between embezzlement vs theft?
If you’ve been charged with embezzlement or theft in Texas, it’s vital to understand the specifics of the crime.
While embezzlement is a form of theft, the consequences of the law are different. Let’s take a look at these crimes and their associated penalties.
Theft in Texas
If you unlawfully appropriate someone’s property with the intent to deprive them of that property, it’s theft.
Put simply, you commit a theft when you take something that doesn’t belong to you without justification on intent. At the time of the robbery, your intention is not to return the property to its rightful owner. There are several types of theft, including:
- Grand theft
- Grand theft auto
Embezzlement itself is a form of theft, but we’ll discuss that more later in the article.
Texas Theft Penalities
How much you’re charged in Texas after committing a theft depends on the property’s value you take. Certain factors, such as the capacity in which you commit theft or prior criminal offenses may lead to a higher penalty.
If you commit theft in Texas, you’ll face the following penalties:
- Theft of $100 or less is considered a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a $500 fine without jail time
- Theft of $100-$750 is considered a Class B misdemeanor which leads to 180 days in jail and a potential $2,000 fine
- Theft of $750-$2,500 is considered a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines
- Theft of $2,500-$30,000 is considered a state jail felony leads to six months to two years and a $10,000 fine
- Theft of $30,000-$150,000 is considered a third-degree felony that could land you in jail for two to 10 years with a $10,000 fine
- Theft of $150,000-$300,000 is considered a second-degree felony that comes with a two to a 20-year jail sentence and a 10,000 fine.
- Theft of over $300,000 is considered a first-degree felony, which comes with a jail sentence of five to 99 years (to life) and a fine of up to $10,000
A prosecutor may bump up these charges one bracket if you have a prior conviction for any level of theft. If you have more than one previous conviction, it’s possible that the judge would bump the punishment up even more.
If you’re in contract with the government, a public servant, or a Medicare Provider, and the theft was related to this, you could also be bumped up to the next higher bracket.
Embezzlement in Texas
Embezzlement is a type of theft in which the property that someone steals isn’t taken from its owners. Instead, embezzlement is when someone gives their property to someone to hold or manage, and the person holding it takes it for personal gain.
In Texas, there are harsh penalties for those who commit embezzlement because of the breach of trust involved in the crime.
In some cases, embezzlement is seen as a form of elder abuse. For example, if someone manages the stocks, assets, and bank accounts of an elderly relative. If this person acts without the knowledge of the older adult and diverts some of their money into an account in the offender’s name, this is embezzlement. Another classic example of embezzlement is when a leader of a corporation takes some of the business’s money and spends it on personal expenses.
The penalty Texas imposes on those who commit theft depends on the value of the property taken. Typically, embezzlement penalties include:
- Embezzlement of $50 or less leads to a fine of up to $500
- Embezzlement of $50-$500 receives up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both
- Embezzlement of $50-$1,500 is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both
- Embezzlement of $1,500-$20,000 leads to 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000, or both
- Embezzlement of $20,000-$100,000 is punishable by two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, or both
- Embezzlement of $200,000 or more is punishable by five to 99 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both
If the victim of the crime is a nonprofit organization or elderly, or if the offender is a government contractor or public servant, fines and prison sentences increase.
Defenses to Embezzlement vs Theft
If you’re facing a theft or embezzlement charge in Texas, how do you plan on defending yourself to avoid hefty fines and jail time? It would be best if you had a criminal attorney who is experienced in developing strategic defenses to receive the best result. Let’s take a look at a few common theft charge defenses.
No Proven Value
The prosecutor is required to prove the element of the theft beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s possible that the alleged victim exaggerated the item’s value. They may not be able to provide evidence of the item, but your attorney may be able to prove that the item isn’t as valuable as previously claimed.
An aggressive and experienced attorney may be able to reduce your theft or embezzlement charges under these circumstances.
Property Was Abandoned
If someone takes property that doesn’t have a clear owner, it’s possible to show that the property was abandoned. If so, this could be a clear defense to obtain a dismissal of charges.
Absence of Intent
Merely possessing property doesn’t prove that someone intends to deprive the owner of it permanently. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can examine the facts surrounding your case to determine if this is a possible defense.
While it’s somewhat rare, it’s possible that an individual might embezzle or steal if they believe they’ll be harmed if they don’t. For example, if you embezzle money because your boss asks you to and you fear that you’ll lose your job if you don’t, that’s duress.
Have You Been Charged With Theft or Embezzlement?
If you’ve been charged with theft or embezzlement in Houston, Texas, you need an experienced attorney. Understanding embezzlement vs theft and the penalties involved is essential before you face a court.
When you’re ready to speak with an attorney, schedule a consultation with Christopher T. Gore to get started.