If you are facing charges for embezzlement in Texas, you are likely wondering what types of penalties you face if convicted. Embezzlement is a serious white-collar crime in Texas with serious repercussions. The penalties of your embezzlement charge will depend on the value of the assets embezzled by the defendant. The most important thing you can do if you are facing embezzlement charges in Texas is to hire an experienced lawyer who can begin to create your criminal defense. Being convicted of embezzlement will have lifelong consequences, and an experienced criminal defense lawyer will help you fight the charge assertively.
What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is a type of fact that is illegal in Texas. Under Texas law, embezzlement is defined as the appropriation of another person’s property with the intent to defraud or deprive them of it. A definition is somewhat broad. Embezzlement includes employees stealing cash from the cash register at work and more complicated investment schemes where white-collar workers skim money off the top of clients’ accounts over a long time. Essentially, anytime an employee is in charge of handling employers’ assets or goods and takes the goods or assets for themselves, the employee can be charged with embezzlement in Texas. Embezzlement includes all of the following:
- Taking cash from an employer outright
- Stealing services are goods from your employer
- Transferring money owned by your employer into your personal account
- “Fixing” or changing the accounting books to conceal income to your employer as the employee takes that income for himself or herself
Texas Embezzlement Laws
Texas does not have a specific statute related to embezzlement. Instead, the crime of embezzlement falls under the statute that penalizes criminal acts of theft. Prosecutors can charge embezzlement as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the property’s value or money stolen. When the stolen property is under $100, the crime will be classified as a class C misdemeanor. Cases that involve large amounts of money can be charged as a felony. When the embezzled property value is over $300,000, prosecutors will classify the crime as a felony in the first-degree.
In some cases, a defendant should challenge the value of the embezzled property. Prosecutors are supposed to value the allegedly embezzled property by calculating its fair market used at the time of the incident. They can also consider how much it would cost to replace the embezzled property when the fair market value cannot be determined. In many cases, embezzlement happens over a long period, making it difficult for prosecutors to value the amount of allegedly embezzled goods correctly. When the embezzlement happens over a period of time with multiple smaller transactions, Texas prosecutors typically consider each incident as a separate offense. They combine the total value from each incident to determine the overall value of allegedly stolen goods.
Potential Penalties for an Embezzlement Conviction in Texas
Those found guilty of embezzlement face significant penalties. The severity of the penalties depends on the amount of money or the value of goods allegedly embezzled by the defendant. The following list will give you an idea of the types of penalties descendants face based on the value of goods are assets embezzled:
- Up to $100: class C misdemeanor charge resulting in a $500 fine
- $100-$750: class B misdemeanor charge with a fine up to $2,000 and a potential jail sentence of up to six months.
- $750 – $2,500: class A misdemeanor charge that carries a penalty of fines up until $4,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year
- $2,500-$30,000: felony charge with a penalty of six months to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000
- $30,000 to $150,000: third-degree felony charge with a penalty of between two and 10 years in state prison and fines up to $10,000
- $150,000 to $300,000: second-degree felony charge with a penalty of between two and 20 years in state prison and fines up to $10,000
- $300,000 and more: first-degree felony with a penalty of two and 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
There are other aggravating factors that can increase the penalty of the embezzlement charge. For example, if you are considered to be a public servant under Texas law when the embezzlement happens, prosecutors will enhance your charge. You will face the next higher category of embezzlement charges and penalties. Additionally, if you embezzled money from an elderly person or a nonprofit organization, you will face enhanced criminal charges.
Those who are charged with embezzling while working for the government can face additional federal embezzlement charges. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is responsible for investigating embezzlement charges in violation of federal white-collar crime laws. Just as there are aggravating factors, there are also mitigating factors. If you are a first-time offender, a Texas judge is more likely to reduce your sentence.
Contact a Texas Embezzlement Lawyer Today
If you are facing embezzlement charges, you need a lawyer as soon as possible. It can be difficult to prove your innocence in embezzlement cases, and your lawyer will be able to review your case and develop your legal strategy. In some cases, your employer may be willing to drop the charges against you if you can work together to negotiate an outcome.
Employers often feel hurt that their employees stole from them, and resolving the issue out of court may be possible. In other cases, employers are adamant that prosecutors bring charges. Hiring an attorney with white-collar crimes experience, including embezzlement, is essential to your defense. Contact the experienced Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Jumes today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can advocate for you.