Arkansas Embezzlement Charges & Penalties

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In Arkansas, embezzlement, which equates to fraudulent misappropriation, is charged in the same manner as theft, regardless of the type of theft committed. This is listed under the Arkansas Code Annotated (Ark. Code Ann.) § 5-36-103. Theft is a very serious crime in Arkansas, and even more so when it is committed from a position of trust. When people abuse or misuse their position to illegally take assets from others to further themselves, they face significant charges.

Arkansas Embezzlement Laws and Penalties

Under Arkansas law, theft is classified based on the value and nature of what was stolen. Punishments vary depending on the levels. As such:

  • Theft of property valued at $1,000 or less is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.
  • Theft of property valued between $1,000 and $5,000 is a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Theft of property valued between $5,000 and $25,000 is a Class C felony, punishable by three to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Theft of property valued between $25,000 and $100,000 is a Class B felony, punishable by five to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.
  • Theft of property valued over $100,000 is a Class A felony, punishable by six to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.

Arkansas Embezzlement Defenses

There are numerous possible defenses to embezzlement. If the person is actually innocent of the crime they have been accused of, a lawyer will always try to determine that. In many cases, defense attorneys will try to determine that the money was embezzled for legitimate purposes, meaning it was not embezzled at all.

Alternatively, they can try to demonstrate that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, they may also try to demonstrate lack of intent, although this is a very difficult defense in embezzlement cases and one that is notoriously difficult to prove due to the nature of the crime.

Finally, a lawyer may try to demonstrate that the accused acted under duress. This means demonstrating that, had they not committed the embezzlement, they had genuine reason to believe they or someone else would come to significant harm. However, this means implicating a third party in the case.

Arkansas Embezzlement Statute of Limitations

In Arkansas, statutes of limitations are in place for the protection of defendants. It is believed that, the longer a time period passes between an action and prosecution, the more difficult it becomes to prove innocence. Similarly, Arkansas legislators believe that people should not be punished for behaviors long ago in the past. However, if the defendant is accused of a felony crime, their statute of limitations will be longer than if it were a misdemeanor offense.

Additionally, a statute of limitations can be tolled from the date of the offense. For instance, if a crime had not been uncovered or if the defendant is out of state for long periods of time, the clock may not start ticking or it may be tolled until the defendant can face charges. In the state, under Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109, the statute of limitations for theft is one year for misdemeanor charges or three years for felony charges.

Top 20 Arkansas Cities for Embezzlement

Here are the top 20 cities in Arkansas with the highest rates of embezzlement and related white-collar crimes:

  1. Little Rock: The capital city with significant instances of financial crimes.
  2. Fort Smith: Known for its high crime rates, including embezzlement.
  3. Fayetteville: Home to the University of Arkansas, with notable white-collar crimes.
  4. Springdale: Reports of financial misconduct and fraud.
  5. Jonesboro: Significant rates of property crimes and embezzlement.
  6. North Little Rock: High rates of financial fraud.
  7. Conway: Known for its instances of white-collar crime.
  8. Rogers: Reports of embezzlement and related financial crimes.
  9. Bentonville: Headquarters of Walmart, with significant white-collar crime rates.
  10. Hot Springs: High property crime rates, including financial fraud.
  11. Pine Bluff: Known for various financial crimes.
  12. Texarkana: Faces substantial white-collar crime rates.
  13. Sherwood: Notable for property crimes and embezzlement.
  14. Russellville: Reports of financial fraud are common.
  15. Bella Vista: Significant instances of financial misconduct.
  16. Paragould: Known for higher crime rates, including embezzlement.
  17. Cabot: Faces notable rates of white-collar crimes.
  18. Blytheville: High crime rates, including financial fraud.
  19. El Dorado: Reports of various white-collar crimes.
  20. Van Buren: Experiences significant white-collar crime rates.

These cities have been identified based on their overall crime statistics, which include a mix of violent, property, and financial crimes such as embezzlement​ (CALDWELL WENZEL ASTHANA)​​ (NeighborhoodScout)​.

Most Famous Arkansas Embezzlement Cases

Arkansas has seen several high-profile embezzlement cases that have captured public attention due to the magnitude of the crimes and the individuals involved. These cases highlight the severity of embezzlement and the significant legal repercussions that can follow.

1. Beverly Carmichael Case

Beverly Carmichael, a former employee of the Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority, was convicted of embezzling over $1.6 million from the agency over several years. She used her position to divert funds for personal use, including lavish vacations and luxury items. Carmichael was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

2. University of Arkansas Fraud

A former assistant director of the University of Arkansas’s fundraising division was found guilty of embezzling nearly $400,000. The funds were used to cover personal expenses and fund a luxurious lifestyle. The case highlighted the need for better financial oversight in educational institutions. The defendant was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution.

3. Wal-Mart Embezzlement Scandal

In Bentonville, Arkansas, a Wal-Mart executive was charged with embezzling over $500,000 from the company. The executive manipulated financial records and invoices to funnel money into personal accounts. The case received significant media attention due to Wal-Mart’s prominence and the high-ranking position of the accused. The executive was sentenced to seven years in prison.

4. Pulaski County Treasurer’s Office

A former employee of the Pulaski County Treasurer’s Office was convicted of embezzling $200,000 by manipulating tax payment records. The case underscored vulnerabilities in the management of public funds and the importance of stringent oversight. The defendant received a six-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay restitution.

5. Baptist Health Medical Center Fraud

An employee at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock was charged with embezzling over $1 million through fraudulent billing practices. The case involved complex financial schemes and resulted in significant financial losses for the hospital. The defendant was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

6. Fayetteville School District Embezzlement

A former employee of the Fayetteville School District was found guilty of embezzling over $250,000 by falsifying payroll records and issuing fraudulent checks. The case highlighted the vulnerabilities in school district financial controls and the importance of oversight. The employee was sentenced to eight years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution.

The Role of an Arkansas Embezzlement Lawyer

Embezzlement charges in Arkansas can lead to severe penalties, including hefty fines, imprisonment, and long-term reputational damage. The role of an Arkansas criminal lawyer is crucial in navigating these serious charges, ensuring the defendant’s rights are protected and building a robust defense strategy.

Case Evaluation and Evidence Review

An Arkansas criminal lawyer begins by thoroughly evaluating the case, scrutinizing the prosecution’s evidence, such as financial records and witness statements. By identifying weaknesses or inconsistencies in the evidence, the lawyer can formulate a strategic defense plan tailored to the specifics of the case.

Defense Strategy Development

Developing a customized defense strategy is a key responsibility of an Arkansas criminal lawyer. This might involve demonstrating a lack of intent to defraud, proving that the defendant had permission to use the funds, or showing that the accused was wrongly identified. The lawyer will also look for procedural errors during the investigation or prosecution that could lead to a dismissal of charges.

Negotiation and Trial Representation

An experienced Arkansas criminal lawyer engages in negotiations with the prosecution, seeking plea deals that could result in reduced charges or lighter sentences. If the case proceeds to trial, the lawyer provides vigorous representation, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making compelling arguments to the jury.

In summary, an Arkansas criminal lawyer plays a vital role in defending against embezzlement charges, from initial case assessment to trial representation, ensuring the best possible outcome for the defendant.


  • Arkansas Code Annotated (Ark. Code Ann.) § 5-36-103: Theft.
  • Arkansas Code Annotated (Ark. Code Ann.) § 5-1-109: Statute of Limitations.
  • “Arkansas Criminal Law: Principles and Cases” by Thomas W. Packer, published by West Academic Publishing.
  • Arkansas Court System: Information on criminal cases and court procedures.
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL): Information and resources on criminal defense.
  • Arkansas Legal Aid: Resources on fraud defense.