Embezzlement occurs when someone who has been entrusted to monitor money or property then redirects those funds or property, often for their own gain. The distinction between embezzlement and theft lies in the fact that the individuals who commit embezzlement had lawful possession of the property or funds at the time of the alleged criminal act. These cases may involve extensive financial records and other documents that necessitate an in-depth investigation.
If you or a loved one is accused of committing this offense, a Fort Oglethorpe embezzlement lawyer may offer you advice and guidance. A knowledgeable fraud defense attorney could help you build a strong defense to the charges you are facing.
Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-8-4 consolidates all forms of theft by conversion, including embezzlement. As a result, state law does not have a separate embezzlement crime. People who commit embezzlement may face the same criminal charges and penalties as those who commit theft by conversion.
Embezzlement is generally defined as a financial crime in which a person in a position of trust who has possession of funds belonging to others takes control of those funds. For example, investment professionals might redirect client funds to their personal accounts without permission. Similarly, a bank teller might pocket cash when taking a customer deposit rather than correctly posting it to the account as directed.
This code section also creates a presumption of theft by conversion for officers and employees of governments or financial institutions. If these employees fail to pay on an account held for others when requested, the law assumes that they intended to divert or steal the funds for their benefit. As embezzlement can result in criminal charges with severe consequences, individuals may wish to consult a local lawyer knowledgeable in financial crimes for advice.
Like many other forms of theft, theft by conversion charges differ according to the stolen property value, or, in the case of embezzlement, the amount of the money taken. Prior theft convictions may have also have a direct bearing on the level of the charges that an individual faces. The circumstances surrounding the embezzlement can also affect the charges and penalties, as a third conviction for theft by conversion may result in felony as opposed to misdemeanor charges.
Theft by conversion is generally a misdemeanor offense unless the total amount stolen is greater than $1,501. However, under O.C.G.A. § 16-8-12, the sentencing judge in a theft by conversion case can enter judgment as a misdemeanor if the embezzled property is worth less than $25,000. As a result, the charges and penalties for embezzlement can vary substantially based on the amount of funds stolen.
O.C.G.A. § 16-8-12 determines the range of sentences for theft by conversion charges. Embezzlement of funds of $25,000 or more can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years. Embezzlement of funds valued at between $5,000 and $24,999.99 carries a potential term of incarceration of one to 10 years. If the embezzled property is worth between $1,500.01 and $4,999.99, then the potential prison term can run from one to five years.
The potential penalties may include a sentence of incarceration of one to 15 years if the embezzlement involved:
This sentence is possible regardless of the value of the property involved. Individuals who commit this offense also may face a fine up to $100,000. As a theft by conversion attorney in the area could explain, embezzlement convictions also create a permanent criminal record that could adversely affect future professional and personal opportunities.
Embezzlement charges may range broadly, depending primarily on the value of the stolen funds or other property. If a criminal charge involves a substantial amount of money or property, the consequences could be harsh. As a result, getting the advice of a Fort Oglethorpe embezzlement lawyer may be in your best interest if you have been accused of this crime.
Protecting yourself when facing any criminal charges may be less challenging when you have the guidance of a strong legal advocate. Your lawyer could evaluate the evidence, discover any holes in the case against you, and develop the most vigorous defense possible. Call right away to schedule a consultation.