Accusations or charges of embezzlement are not to be taken lightly. While financial crimes may not receive the same attention or are not considered as serious as violent crimes, a conviction of embezzlement carries heavy penalties, both at the state and federal level, including fines and prison sentences. Even the accusation or an investigation can damage your personal and professional reputation.
If you are accused, you need an embezzlement attorney in Raleigh with the experience and knowledge to fight on your behalf. At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we bring over 50 years of combined experience to our clients, and as former Wake County Assistant District Attorneys, we have a unique insight into how “the other side” thinks and operates. Whether an investigation has just been opened or you are currently facing charges, you can’t put off legal representation any longer – contact us for a free consultation.
Embezzlement is a type of theft in which someone steals or knowingly misappropriates funds, property, or resources from an employer, business partner, organization, or trust for their own personal use or gain. This differs from larceny because the person who is accused of the crime is in a position of trust and has been given permission to access or manage the money or resources.
Examples of Embezzlement
Common scenarios of embezzlement include:
- An employee “borrowing” money from the cash register.
- Overcharging a customer and keeping the extra.
- Exaggerating an expense account.
- Manipulating or changing accounts or records to cover where theft has occurred (called “cooking the books”).
- Falsifying employee time records.
- Using a dependent or relative’s Social Security or pension for personal use.
- Taking money out of a charity or organization, such as a little league.
Embezzlement Laws in North Carolina
Embezzlement is a crime both at the federal level and in the state of North Carolina where the laws are covered by General Statute 14-90 through 14-99. It states that the crime of “embezzlement of property received by virtue of office or employment” is committed if a person:
- Fraudulently or intentionally and deliberately takes property (including money, possessions, inventory, or other items) for the individual’s own use;
- Act with the intent of fraudulently or knowingly using or misapplying property to the individual’s own use.
Embezzlement in North Carolina is a felony. If the value of what is taken is under $100,000, and the accused is a private citizen, the charge is a Class H felony, which is punishable by 4 to 25 months in prison. A public official charged with embezzling public funds under $100,000 is facing a Class F felony which is accompanied by 10 to 41 months in prison. If the value exceeds $100,000, the individual is charged with a Class C felony, which is punishable by 44 to 182 months in prison regardless if the accused is a private citizen or public official.
The individual list of charges in the General Statute are embezzlement of or by:
- State property by public officers and employees.
- Funds by public officers and trustees.
- By treasurers of charitable and religious organizations.
- By officers of railroad companies
- Appropriation of partnership funds by a partner of a business for personal use.
- By a surviving business partner.
- Embezzling tax dollars by officers
Larceny By Employee
In some cases, an accusation of stealing from an employer may bring the charge “Larceny by Employee” in North Carolina. It’s very similar to embezzlement. and even carries the same penalties. While larceny by employee can only be brought against a paid employee of a person or company, the scope of who can be charged with embezzling money or property is much broader.
Federal Embezzlement Charges
In addition to facing charges from the state of North Carolina, having an embezzlement attorney in Raleigh act as your federal criminal defense attorney may be necessary. Federal charges of embezzlement are related to United States government property so a federal employee diverting funds into their personal accounts, or a private citizen padding an account on a government contract could both be charged by the U.S. government.
If found guilty of federal embezzlement charges, the value of what was taken or misappropriated affects the punishment. If convicted of embezzling property with a value of less than $1,000, the penalties can include a fine up to $100,000 and one year in prison. For a value exceeding $1,000, the penalty can include a $250,000 fine and ten years in prison. The only exception to this is the taking or misappropriation of implements or devices used to print or produce stamps, money, or other government items or documents. Regardless of value, the maximum penalty is still $250,000 and ten years in prison.
Working with an Embezzlement Attorney in Raleigh
Both state and federal agencies take significant measures to investigate and prosecute embezzlement. If you believe that you are under investigation but have not yet been arrested or formally charged, you can benefit greatly from hiring a skilled Raleigh embezzlement attorney to defend you. The earlier your defense attorney can begin their own investigation and strategy, it may even be possible to avoid charges or have the investigation dropped altogether.
If you have been charged with embezzling, time is of the essence. It is vital that you immediately contact a legal team who has the experience and in-depth understanding of white collar crimes. At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we are dedicated to investigating your case, gathering evidence, speaking with witnesses, and doing whatever it takes to achieve a positive result.
Contact Our Embezzlement Defense Attorneys Today
If you are facing embezzlement charges, our criminal defense team can provide you with the experience, knowledge, and dedication you need. In addition to representing clients charged at the state level, we also represent clients in federal cases in the Eastern District of North Carolina. For a free consultation about your case, contact us at (919) 887-8040 or fill out our contact form.