Embezzlement is arguably the most serious larceny offense in Virginia. Prosecutors and the Courts generally take Embezzlement cases more seriously than Larceny cases because it involves the betrayal of trust of the employer by the employee. The crime is deemed one of moral turpitude and, as a result, a conviction may lead to difficulties maintaining employment, security clearances, and are important in immigration cases. Hiring an Embezzlement Lawyer will be very important to your case. We offer a Free Consultation to discuss your case. Give us a call or use the contact form below.
What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is defined under §18.2-111 as a larceny. It is defined as a conversion (taking) of another's property by an individual entrusted with possession of that property to his own or another's use or benefit. The key difference in Virginia between Embezzlement and Petlt Larceny or Grand Larceny is that Embezzlement involves the conversion of property that was received with the owner consent. The typical scenario is an employee, such as a cashier, stealing from the employer by taking funds from the cash drawer the employee is assigned to. The taking of funds generally happens over time and, in the end, the biggest issue with catching an Embezzlement charge is, if convicted, who will ever hire you?
Even if the Defendant diverts funds to the benefit of another (and not of himself), the action is sufficient to establish a wrongful appropriation of property to his or her own use. (chiang v commonwealth, 6 Va App 613).
However, the conversion of property under a bona fide claim of ownership is not embezzlement. To constitute embezzlement, there must be a fraudulent intent to deprive the owner of his property. (whitlow v. Commonwealth, 184 Va. 910).
The punishment for Embezzlement depends on the dollar value of the goods taken. If the fair market value (including depreciation) of the property is less than $200, it would constitute a misdemeanor embezzlement. As a result, a misdemeanor charge carries a penalty range of up to 12 months in jail with a $2500 fine. If the fair market value (including depreciation) of the property is $200 or more, it would constitute a felony embezzlement. Therefore, a felony embezzlement charge carries a penalty range of up to 20 years in prison with a $2500 fine.
Do you need a lawyer for your Embezzlement charge?
It is strongly recommend you appear in court with a lawyer in an Embezzlement case. Whether or not the charge is a felony or misdemeanor, it will be exceedingly difficult to obtain employment in the future with an embezzlement conviction. Even if you're legally guilty of the offense, there are certain mitigating factors that can help. Even if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, apply for a court-appointed lawyer to give yourself the best chance at a favorable outcome.