Under Texas law, the crime of embezzlement falls under the category of “theft,” along with shoplifting, swindling, extortion, and receiving or concealing stolen or embezzled property. The consequences of all subsections of theft are the same. These penalties can be devastating without proper trial preparation, which is why the definition of embezzlement should be known to anyone accused of it.
Definition of embezzlement
Embezzlement can be boiled down to stealing from your employer. This is relevant at all levels of theft and employment. A minimum wage cashier is embezzling when they skim off the cash register, and a CEO is embezzling when they transfer funds from company bank accounts into their personal accounts.
The theft does not have to be of money, and can sometimes involve stealing services or goods.
Consequences of embezzlement
Since Texas law categorizes embezzlement as theft, the penalties are the same as other thefts and are based on the value of the property stolen. That is:
- Below $1,500: Qualifies as a misdemeanor and can result in up to 1 year in jail
- $1,500 – $20,000: Qualifies as a state jail felony and can result in up to 2 years in state jail
- $20,000 – $100,000: Qualifies as a third-degree felony and will result in 2 – 10 years in prison
- $100,000 – $200,000: Qualifies as a second-degree felony and will result in between 2 and 20 years in state prison
- More than $200,000: Qualifies as a first-degree felony and will result in between 5 and 99 years in state prison
Common defenses of embezzlement charges
In cases of embezzlement, the prosecutor is responsible for finding proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. This means that they need to find proof that the employee:
- Stole cash;
- Stole goods or services;
- Transferred funds; or
- Altered the employer’s records to conceal income
Defendants have found many valid defenses for their accused embezzlements, including:
- No intent to steal from the employer;
- The employer gave consent; and
- The defendant made an honest mistake while dealing with the company books
Defendants cannot use entrapment as their defense, with entrapment being when the crime was committed after being pressured by undercover law enforcement.
If you have been accused of embezzling from your employer you will need a good criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Case J. Darwin is here to help and will defend you as your life and reputation are on the line. Contact us today and schedule a consultation.