In Alabama, embezzlement is a very serious crime with equally serious consequences. The crime is defined as someone stealing funds that have been placed in their care but do not belong to them. It is mainly a business crime. There is not a separate statute that deals specifically with embezzlement, however. Rather, the state treats it in the same way as theft, listing charges and penalties in the same manner.
Alabama Laws and Penalties
Under the laws in Alabama, embezzlement is a property theft type of crime. It happens when someone knowingly and willingly accepts someone else’s property into their care but intends to take it away from them without their authorization. This is different from theft by definition, whereby the property is never actually placed in someone’s care. However, the state still sees the crime itself in the same manner. At the same time, however, judges often look more harshly on embezzlement cases because of the abuse of trust that the perpetrator has exhibited as part of their crime. The charges for theft of property are:
- Theft of property in the first degree, which happens when over $2,500 was embezzled. If it was preplanned by at least one individual, it is classed as a Class B felony. This can lead to a prison sentence of between two and 20 years. Additionally, fines will be charged, usually up to $30,000. This is covered under Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code § 13A-8-3.
- Theft of property in the second degree, which happens when between $1,500 and $2,500 was embezzled. This is a Class C felony. In this case, a prison sentence of between one and 10 years will be imposed as well as fines of up to $15,000. This is covered under Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code § 13A-8-4.
- Theft of property in the third degree, which happens when less than $1,500 was embezzled. This is a Class A misdemeanor. This leads to the lightest sentence, being a prison sentence of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $6,000. This is covered under Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code § 13A-8-2.
Alabama Embezzlement Defenses
According to Alabama law, embezzlement charges are related to theft. Hence, if the individual can demonstrate that they were under the honest impression that, when the offense occurred, they had a valid claim on the services or property that were taken, then it is not possible for the charge to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and should lead to a not guilt verdict. This is covered under Alabama Code §13A-8-12.
Alabama Statute of Limitations
Under Alabama Code 15-3-1, prosecution for felony crimes must be started within three years of the offense having been commissioned. However, it is possible for the statute of limitations to be tolled if the defendant is out of state, including in different countries at any time. Additionally, the victims of embezzlement may start a civil case against the defendant under Alabama law as well. This also carries a three year statute of limitations.
Alabama Embezzlement Cases
- Coast chef embezzled thousands after appearing on two Food Network shows. Local Coast chef, Stacie Meehan Vande Wetering is a known top chef who participated in two televised food challenges when working at the Singing River Yacht Club. She has been indicted by a grand jury in Jackson County for allegedly embezzling between $5,000 and $10,000.
- Former teller pleads guilty to embezzlement charges. Briana Bates Gurley is a former teller who has pleaded guilty to embezzling tens of thousands of dollars over a three year period from the Calhoun County Credit Union. She agreed to pay restitution for the $88,000 that were embezzled from the Oxford Branch of the AOD Federal Credit Union.
- Town of Burnsville former city clerk arrested for embezzlement. Jilision Lynn Lee was arrested on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 and charged with embezzlement. A demand was served to her for $1,161,70, including interest and investigative costs. Allegedly, she used a city credit card between January 2013 and February 2015 to make personal purchases. According to the State Auditor’s Office, she has already repaid from of those funds.
- Stockbroker from Alabama faces 30 years in prison for embezzlement. Eric Scott Darty, a 30 year old stockbroker from Alabama is alleged to have embezzled over $200,000 from the BBVA Compass Bank. He has agreed to plead guilty and sign a plea agreement in relation to the charge.
- Woman from Water Valley arrested on embezzlement charges. Cierra Smith, a 20 year old woman from Water Valley, was arrested on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Water Valley police on an Oxford police felony warrant. She is alleged to have embezzlement money from her employer but the amount has not been released to the public. Rather, the police have informed the press that it is a felony amount.