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.
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:
Embezzlement itself is a form of theft, but we’ll discuss that more later in the article.
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:
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.