Embezzlement is in the news often with headlines usually including large corporations or politicians. It is not only a crime of high finance or one that belongs only to corporate circles—it can happen anywhere. Perhaps you have been a secretary or treasurer of a club or organization? You likely had access to the bank accounts for the group and made deposits and paid bills. Also, if you have ever worked where you have had to handle money, make deposits, and pay bills for the business, you have been in a position for temptation. These kinds of scenarios are a potential breeding ground for embezzlement when policies and procedures are not in place or are not followed.
What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is property theft that happens when someone who is managing funds for another uses the organization's money or property for his or her own gain. The deciding factor to determine embezzlement is when the defendant has legal access to the other's money or property but has no legal ownership to it. We all know that when someone takes someone else's money or property, it is theft. Embezzlement happens when the thief was in a position of trust, such as an officer.
The circumstances for embezzlement are endless. From caregivers tasked with purchasing groceries or personal items, to a small business worker, it can happen anywhere, at any level of value and to anyone. Cases often reflect a person in a position of trust who runs into personal problems. The access to money is too tempting and they eventually “borrow money” with the idea that they will put it right back. The problem is, this usually becomes a bad habit and when they dig themselves in so deeply, they cannot emerge. Before long, the peer leadership begins questioning the disparity and then an investigation reveals the theft.
When you are found guilty of embezzlement in Washington, you can face various penalties depending on the value of the property or money stolen. The higher the value of the stolen property, the more severe the consequences. Prison time and fines are generally both part of the penalty depending on the details of the crime and any past criminal offenses.
If the money or property is valued at more than $5,000, you could be fined up to $20,000 and ten years in prison. If the property or money is valued between $750 and $5,000, you may be fined up to $10,000 and up to five years in jail. Any embezzlement charges for property valued less than $750, penalties could reach up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Because embezzlement can yield a felony charge, it is a serious crime and you should seek counsel from an experienced attorney. With the right guidance, you may be able to avoid criminal punishment by paying back the money along with court fees and other costs.
Call Karimi Law Office today to schedule your consultation if you have been charged with embezzlement. Embezzlement can impact your future. We can help.