What is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a white collar crime, meaning the act is nonviolent with financial motivation.  Though this type of crime may seem less serious than violent crimes, embezzlement schemes may get extremely complex and can leave victims in complete financial ruin.  Simply, embezzlers take someone else’s money or personal property.  However, embezzlement is different than theft because an embezzler actually has legal access what they steal.  Embezzlers do not have legal ownership of the money or property, but they temporarily have possession of it and decide to keep it permanently for their own benefit.

What are some examples of embezzlement?

There is no one formula for embezzlement and the charge may arise out of many different situations.  Some examples include:

  • A person in charge of a relative’s money keeping some of the money for themselves.
  • A store cashier taking money from the register they are charged to operate.
  • An investment broker who keeps his clients’ money instead of investing it.
  • A bank teller taking deposit money.
  • Corporate employees using elaborate schemes to falsify records and take corporate funds.
  • Ponzi schemes, which pay money to investors from funds paid by new investors and the brokers keep the profits.

If I am charged with embezzlement, what penalties will I face?

The penalties for embezzlement in Pennsylvania vary depending on the amount of money or value of the property embezzled.  The potential penalties increase as the value goes up:

  • Less than $50 = up to one year in jail and/or $2,500 fine
  • $50 – $199 = up to two years in prison and/or $5,000 fine
  • $200 – $1,999 = up to five years in prison and/or $10,000 fine
  • $2,000 or more = up to seven years in prison and/or $15,000 fine

As you can see, Pennsylvania takes embezzlement very seriously and the consequences for being convicted of embezzling even a small amount of money or property may be severe.  For this reason, it is always imperative to seek representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to defend embezzlement charges.  Brian Zeiger has extensive experience in criminal defense and has been named a Super Lawyer three times.  Do not hesitate to contact our office if you are facing any criminal charges.

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