White collar crimes typically don’t receive the intense media glare of violent offenses such as rape and murder. But crimes such as embezzlement still pack weight when it comes to Pennsylvania law and sentencing, so if you have been charged it is important to find experienced legal representation.
If you are facing embezzlement charges in the Pennsylvania area, call Brian Manchester, an experienced embezzlement defense attorney in Pennsylvania, call today. It is important to start working on your defense right away.
What Is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement, simply put, is a type of financial theft. Specifically, it is the fraudulent taking of money or other property with which the embezzler has been entrusted. This trust can come in a number of forms, but it often means the embezzler owes a “fiduciary duty” to the person or organization whose money has been stolen. A fiduciary is someone who manages the money or property of another person and is obligated by law to show that person good faith, trust, confidence and candor; a common example of a person with a fiduciary duty is a trustee at a bank or an employee tasked with handling her company’s money. Embezzlement does not have to include the theft of money, however. Theft of merchandise from a retail employer, for example, may qualify.
Embezzlement Is Against the Law, But How?
There is no single law that covers embezzlement in Pennsylvania. Instead it is covered by the state’s anti-theft laws. The relevant statutes in this state make it a crime to unlawfully take property or to take property using deception or extortion. The first kind of theft involves the unlawful taking, transfer of control of property in order to benefit the taker or deprive the owner. Theft by deception, probably the most common form of embezzlement, occurs when a person intentionally uses deception to obtain or withhold property. Theft by extortion occurs when a person obtains or withholds property by threatening to do any of the following: commit a crime; accuse someone of a crime; expose a secret that would subject someone to hatred, contempt or ridicule; take or withhold action as an official, or compel an official to take or withhold action; start or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action; provide information or testify, or withhold information or testimony; or inflict any other harm. If, instead of stealing money or property, a defendant is accused of stealing services from an employer, Pennsylvania’s theft of services law may apply.
Embezzlement Penalties in Pennsylvania
The punishment for a defendant convicted of embezzlement depends on the amount stolen and the type of property. A defendant convicted of stealing money or property worth less than $50 is subject to at most one year in jail, unless he is accused of breaching a fiduciary duty or stealing services. Theft of between $50 and $200 is punishable by as many as two years unless a breach of fiduciary duty is involved. Where a fiduciary duty is breached in either of these situations, as many as five years can be imposed. In the case of theft of services worth less than $50, probation and a small fine apply. Similarly, where a defendant is accused of stealing retail merchandise worth less than $150, probation and a fine are the only punishment for a first offense. Embezzlement of retail merchandise worth more than $150 carries a penalty of at most five years for a first conviction. Theft of money or property worth more than $2,000, also known as grand theft, is a felony and carries a punishment of as many as seven years.
If you or a loved one are in the Pennsylvania area and have been charged with embezzlement, call Brian Manchester, an experienced embezzlement defense lawyer in Pennsylvania. He can help you build the defense you need today.