If you have been accused of embezzlement, Pennsylvania law imposes severe penalties that can include incarceration and a potential felony conviction depending on the amount of money and/or type of property at issue. This white collar criminal offense involves theft of property or money by an individual entrusted to safeguard, manage, or monitor the items or funds. The key defining feature of this form of theft offense is that the defendant is granted legal access but not ownership of the property or funds. Many people arrested for embezzlement in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas of Pennsylvania are accused of stealing from their employer. Whether you are a bank teller accused of stealing from your drawer, a board member alleged to have mishandled investor funds, or a company employee who pilfers petty cash, a conviction typically will result in consequences beyond a criminal sentence, including loss of your job, and difficulty obtaining future employment.
Under Pennsylvania law, the act of embezzlement might be charged under a variety of offenses, such as:
- Theft related to failure to make designated disposition after receipt of funds (i.e. keeping property or money provided under a legal agreement to pass the property on to another individual or institution)
- Theft by deception: Engaging in fraud or dishonesty to take or obtain assets.
- Theft by extortion: Theft of property through use of threats to expose sensitive information; start a strike, boycott, or collective action; commit a crime; or cause other types of harm
The punishment for embezzlement is determined by the nature and value of the items or money taken as indicated below:
- Under $50: A year in jail, fine up to $2,500, or both
- Over $50 but less than $200: Maximum of two years in prison, fine up to $5,000, or both
- Over $200 and up to $2,000: Maximum of five years in imprisonment, fine up to $10,000, or both
- Over $2,000: Maximum of seven years of incarceration in state penitentiary, fine up to $15,000, or both
- Specific Categories of Property: Embezzlement involving a motor vehicle is subject to the same punishment as theft of over $2,000 regardless of the value of the vehicle. If the property at issue is a firearm, anhydrous ammonia, or items taken during a natural, manmade, or war-related disaster, the penalty is up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $25,000, or both.
- Specific Employment/Positions: Special provisions impose different penalties on individuals who commit embezzlement that work in specific jobs or hold particular positions. For example, an agent, employee or employer of an insurance carrier who embezzles from the insurer faces exposure to a sentence of a maximum of five years imprisonment, fine equaling the amount misappropriated, or both. Similarly, a school treasure who takes the institution’s funds or property will face up to thirty days in jail, a fine of $25 to $1000, or both.
While these penalties can be daunting, an arrest does not mean that you will be convicted. Experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Brian J. Zeiger tenaciously defends the rights, freedom, and reputation of people facing allegations of embezzlement. These defenses might include a lack of intent, duress, entrapment, illegally obtained statements, improper seizure of evidence, and other defenses based on the specific facts and circumstances of your situation. Contact a Pennsylvania embezzlement defense attorney today at The Zeiger Firm by calling us at (215) 546-0340.