The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania consolidates a number of crimes under the umbrella of theft. Embezzlement is one type of theft and may involve either a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
Theft convictions carry steep penalties, and if you are facing an embezzlement charge, you should reach out to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A Pennsylvania embezzlement lawyer can help you prepare a defense and develop the best course of action for your criminal case.
In general, theft means withholding or taking someone else’s property without first obtaining their consent. The accused must also intend to permanently deprive the owner of their property. Any activity that reduces the property’s value significantly (or completely) – or which decreases the likelihood that the owner will recover their property – amounts to permanent or substantial deprivation.
Embezzlement is a specific type of theft. In order for the Commonwealth prosecutor to prove that the accused committed embezzlement, they must demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused obtained the property in one of the following ways:
In many embezzlement cases, the owner entrusts money or property to the accused for a very limited and specific purpose – usually in the employment context. The accused then misappropriates the property for their own use or otherwise treats the property as their own.
If the Commonwealth convicts the accused of embezzlement, they will likely face some harsh penalties. Pennsylvania establishes a range of sentences and penalties which are applicable to all theft offenses. The penalties that the sentencing judge imposes are usually based upon the value of the goods at issue, as well as the type of property taken.
If the stolen property has a value of $2,000 or more, the Commonwealth can charge the accused with a third degree felony. A conviction can result in up to seven years in jail.
Misappropriated property having a lesser value, however, may incur only misdemeanor charges. If the stolen property has a value of less than $50, a value ranging from $50 to $200, or a value ranging from $200 to $2,000, the accused can face a third degree misdemeanor charge, a second degree misdemeanor charge, and a first degree misdemeanor charge, respectively.
The potential sentences for these offenses can range anywhere from one year in jail to a maximum of five years in jail. An embezzlement lawyer in Pennsylvania can represent the accused at a criminal sentencing hearing and argue for a lighter sentence or penalty.
Serious embezzlement charges require a strong legal defense in order to beat. Embezzlement is a specific intent crime. Therefore, the accused may allege that they took the property by mistake and/or that they did not intend to permanently deprive the true owner of their property.
An embezzlement attorney in Pennsylvania can determine how to best present an applicable defense in court.
If you are in the midst of embezzlement proceedings and have a trial date, you should not delay in seeking experienced legal representation. If you show up to your court date without a lawyer present, the judge is not required to postpone your case.
A Pennsylvania embezzlement lawyer can inform you of your legal options and help you prepare a defense to your charge.