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What constitutes embezzlement?

| Jun 27, 2021 | White Collar Crimes

Essentially, embezzlement is one form of larceny. Larceny can be defined as the wrongful taking or withholding of property from its rightful owner. Embezzlement then is when that property is taken by a person who is entrusted to hold it on behalf of the rightful owner. 

Most often, the crime of embezzlement occurs in a person’s place of work. Whether they are an accountant, a director, or some other position that is entrusted with access to a company’s financial accounts, they use their access to transfer funds into their personal possession. 

However, embezzlement is not limited to money. It could also be company property, computer data, computer programs, or any substance or thing of value. This includes gas, water, or electricity. For example, you use your company’s electricity to set up a cryptocurrency mining operation. 

What are the potential penalties for embezzlement in the state of New York?

The penalty for embezzlement is ultimately contingent on the value of the theft. 

If the value of the property is greater than $1,000, the offense automatically gets categorized as a felony. The charge would be fourth-degree grand larceny, a class E felony. 

If the value of the property is greater than $1,000,000, the charge would be first-degree grand larceny, a class B felony. If charged with grand larceny, a convicted defendant will face prison time and fines.

Convictions of class E to class B felonies come with a sentence of at least 3 years in prison, but the maximum sentence for first-degree grand larceny is 25 years in prison — which makes this a very serious crime, indeed. Plus, the court will fine a convicted defendant a minimum of $5,000 or double the amount the defendant is accused of stealing. 

If you or someone you know has been charged with embezzlement, seek legal support immediately. A charge doesn’t necessarily equate to a conviction, and there may be many defenses available to you that you don’t even realize are there.