Is Embezzlement a Felony or Federal Crime?

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The full definition of embezzle is to appropriate property entrusted in ones care fraudulently to ones own use.  Embezzlement is a type of financial fraud. More often than not, embezzlement is performed in a manner that is premeditated, systematic and/or methodical, with the explicit intent to conceal the activities from other individuals. Embezzlement usually involves money, and may range from being minor in nature, involving only small amounts, to involving vast sums of money and very sophisticated in nature.

The consequences for those caught embezzling will vary from state to state, but this crime almost always involves prison time.

1. What is the definition of fraud or embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a kind of financial fraud. It is the act of dishonestly withholding assets for the purpose of conversion (theft) of such assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted.

 2. When Does Embezzlement Become a Felony?

Each state may have different requirements for felony embezzlement.  A typical state statute might classify embezzlement as follows:

  • Embezzlement of less than $2,500:  Misdemeanor charge
  • Embezzlement of $2,500-$5,000: Class I Felony
  • Embezzlement of $5,000-$10,000:  Class H Felony
  • Embezzlement of amounts greater than $10,000: Class G Felony

3. What are the Legal Consequences for Felony Embezzlement?

A Class I Felony Embezzlement charge may result in a fine of $1,000 and a prison sentence of 1-3 years.  A more serious charge such as a Class G felony charge might result in a fine of $5,000 and a prison sentence of 5 years.  Again, such classifications and penalties will vary according to state.

4. What is Felony Embezzlement?

Felony embezzlement is a type of white collar crime involving the unlawful conversion of ownership rights of property or assets.

5. Is there Misdemeanor Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is usually a misdemeanor charge; however, it can result in felony charges depending on the value of the goods that were converted.

6. Do I Need a Lawyer for Felony Embezzlement Charges?

Felony embezzlement is a serious criminal charge and can result in severe penalties for the offender.  As in all criminal cases, you have the right to an attorney, who can help determine if you have any defenses to embezzlement.

7. What if someone has Embezzled money from me?

If you suspect that you have been the victim of embezzlement, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit in court so that you can recover your losses.

8. Who is likely to defraud or embezzle?

Strangely enough, a female employee above age 40 without a prior criminal history working in finance or accounting.

9. What are some of the signs that fraud or embezzlement might be occurring?

If you notice that an employee is living beyond their means; that could be a sign.  Also, a “loss” of documents or excuses why they cannot prepare requested reports because the information is lost or was accidentally shredded, can be a sign.

10. Can a business partner be charged with embezzlement?

Business partners absolutely can be charged with embezzlement. Embezzlement is simply a form of theft, but one perpetrated by someone who had a relationship of trust to the company. A business owner clearly applies as a person “in a relationship of trust.” The use of business accounts to pay personal expenses is a common form of embezzlement.

11. Where is embezzlement most likely to happen?

This type of crime is most common in the employment and corporate fields.  Some embezzlers simply take a large amount of money at once, while others misappropriate small amounts over a long period of time.

13. If someone was interviewed by the police for embezzlement charges, and was denied an attorney during questioning, would a confession be submitted in court for evidence?

Confessions are not always admissible and perhaps a new criminal defense attorney looking at the situation is needed—because there would seemingly be no way that the confession could hold if they had repeatedly asked for an attorney during questioning and was denied.

14. What is the statute of limitations for embezzlement charges in the state of Virginia?

Misdemeanor embezzlement has a one year statute of limitations in Virginia, whereas a felony embezzlement charge does not have a statute of limitations.

15. What is vehicle embezzlement?

Vehicle embezzlement occurs when a person attempts to fraudulently convert use of another person’s vehicle. Vehicle embezzlement could be refusing to return a vehicle that a person has loaned you.

16. Once embezzlement is discovered how far back can an employer search for evidence?

An employer can go back as far as they wish when investigating an embezzlement. The employer would face statute of limitation issues if they were to attempt a civil claim. If the employer were to sue for fraud, they could sue for any claims that occurred within three years of the discovery of fraud.

Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq

Geoffrey Nathan is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. He is a Boston criminal defense attorney with over 25 years of experience in felony, federal, and white-collar crimes. Board of Bar Overseers Number #552110