In simple terms, embezzlement in Ohio relates to kinds of property theft, when a defendant entrusted to monitor or manage someone else’s property or money steals part of that property or money for his or her own benefit. The key factor that makes embezzlement different from plain theft is that the defendant has access to the victim’s property or money but not legal ownership of it. The crime of embezzlement therefore includes a breach of trust.
Embezzlement in Ohio might take place within a number of different circumstances. For instance, while a bank teller has access to a client’s money, he or she is trusted not to take that money. If the teller took some of the funds that he or she is responsible for protecting, this would be known as embezzlement.
Laws and Penalties
In the state of Ohio, the crime of embezzlement is generally punished according to the value of the property or money that was stolen, with some consideration of other external factors. For instance:
- When the value of the stolen goods is less than $1,000, penalties may include 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- When the value is more than $1,000, but less than $7,500, penalties can include up to a year in jail, and/or fines of up to $2,000.
- When the value is more than $7,500, but less than $150,000, penalties might include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to eighteen months in prison.
- When the value of the stolen goods is more than $150,000, but less than $750,000, penalties might include up to 36 months in jail, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- When the value is more than $750,000, but less than $1,500,000, penalties can include up to eight years in prison and/or a fine of $15,000.
- When the value of the stolen goods is over $1,500,000, penalties may include up to 11 years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
What’s more, when specific kinds of property are stolen, these properties come with their own penalties, regardless of their value. For example, firearms or dangerous ordinances come with a penalty of fines up to $10,000, and/or up to 36 months in prison. These penalties increase substantially when the items are stolen from a federally-licensed arms dealer. Similarly, there are specific penalties for stolen drugs, motor vehicles, police animals, and even anhydrous ammonia.
Importantly, when the victim of embezzlement is over the age of 65, or classed as physically or mentally disabled, this will also incur an increased penalty. If the defendant in question has already had one offense or more, then the penalties may also be increased according to the statutes of Ohio law.
Embezzlement can be addressed with many of the same defenses that are available for use in the cases of other crimes. Common defenses might include:
- Insufficient evidence – it is possible to dismiss a criminal charge if there is not enough proof or evidence present to prosecute a witness. The aim of the lawyer for the defense in this case is to prove that it is impossible to find the defendant guilty without reasonable doubt. Approximately 40% of all embezzlement cases are currently dropped as a result of insufficient evidence.
- Duress – Duress or entrapment occurs when the accused conducted a crime because they believed truly that some danger or injury would befall them or their loved ones if they did not. In embezzlement cases, the defense of duress might not work if you attempt to suggest that you needed to steal money or property to satisfy an addiction or prevent hardship to your family. On the other hand, a defense that might work is that you were told you would lose your job unless you took part in an embezzlement scheme.
- Lack of Intent – Most of the time, to be found guilty of a crime, the accusing party must prove that the defendant intended to commit a crime. In the case of embezzlement, this means showing that the defendant had the intent to take property or money from others for his or her own use. Without this intent, the charge of embezzlement might be dismissed – such as if you believed you were the owner of the money you were embezzling.
Statute of Limitations
In Ohio, the current statute of limitations on embezzlement is set at six years from the moment when the alleged act occurred, or when it could have been discovered reasonably. This statute is outlined in Ohio Code Section 2901.13.
Ohio Embezzlement Cases
- Former CEO of non-profit faces embezzlement charges
- Mansfield woman pleads not guilty to embezzlement charges
- Lancaster mayor under investigation after his wife pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts including embezzlement
- Former Ohio church treasurer pleads guilty to embezzlement and gets five-year sentence
- Former United Brotherhood of Carpenters secretary sentenced to one year probation for embezzlemen