Like most financial crimes, embezzlement is a very complex charge. If you or a loved one are facing embezzlement charges, our Wake County defense attorneys are providing an in-depth look at this crime, including what it is, how it differs from larceny, and the kind of penalties you may be facing.
What Is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is outlined in the North Carolina General Statute under Article 14, Chapter 18. At its core, embezzlement is the theft or misappropriation of money that has been placed in one’s trust or care or hiding funds with the intent to misappropriate those funds. This could span from taking money from a cash register or writing false checks from the business to oneself to using money from a minor’s trust fund for your own personal use. It also includes stealing assets and inventory. This differs from larceny because it specifically refers to people who are entrusted with the money or property rather than someone breaking in, hacking an account, or shoplifting from an establishment.
In addition to stealing or misappropriating funds from an employer or from a trust you’re legally tasked with overseeing, North Carolina also includes these as embezzlement:
- State property by public officers and employees
- Funds by public officers and trustees
- Treasurers of charitable and religious organizations removing or lending money without the consent of the institution or failing to account for funds’ whereabouts when called upon
- Officers of railroad companies
- Appropriation of partnership funds by partner to personal use without the knowledge and consent of other partners.
- Surviving partner converting property or money belonging to the partnership to their own use.
- Taxes by officers
These all fall under embezzlement charges and are punished in the same way.
Punishments and Penalties for Embezzling Money in NC
Embezzlement in North Carolina is always charged as a felony. However, the severity of the charge depends.
- Employees or officers of a business, trust, or corporation or treasurers of a church or charity will be charged with a Class C felony if the value is in excess of $100,000. If below that amount, the charge is a Class H felony.
- Public employees and government officials accused of embezzling over $100,000 in funds or assets are also facing a Class C felony. However, if the amount is less, it is a Class F felony.
In addition to the prison or jail sentences, those found guilty of embezzlement often have to pay restitution to the victim of their crime.
Is Embezzlement a Federal Crime?
While most embezzlement charges are brought by the state, the Department of Justice can prosecute embezzlement that crosses state lines or the victim is a federal agency or organization with national interests, such as a federal contractor. If you are facing federal charges, you need a federal criminal defense attorney specifically to represent you.
When to Hire an Embezzlement Attorney
At the first sign of an investigation or accusation, you should consult with an embezzlement attorney to represent you. Not only is it important to have legal representation when answering questions to avoid incriminating yourself, but the sooner you have an attorney on your side working on your case, the more time they have to craft a defense strategy or determine a possible plea agreement.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Defense Attorney in Wake County
If you are being investigated or have been charged with embezzlement, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in Wake County to represent you. At Coolidge Law Firm, we have a dedicated and experienced team to fight for your rights and defend you against criminal charges. Call us today at (919) 239-8448 or fill out the form below to get started.