call us
Request Consultation

Embezzlement: A Fancy Word for Stealing Money

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Embezzlement: A Fancy Word for Stealing Money

  • Comments Off on Embezzlement: A Fancy Word for Stealing Money
Embezzlement Laws in Texas

When someone is designated to oversee money or property, they are expected to use those items according to the instructions of the owner. Misusing funds that belong to someone else is an illegal activity and can lead to criminal charges under Texas law. This type of crime is known as embezzlement and it is taken very seriously by the justice system.

A conviction for embezzlement can lead to some very severe penalties. It is possible to defend against embezzlement charges in court but it is important to know some facts about this offense.

Legal Definition

According to Texas Penal Code Chapter 31, embezzlement is defined as a type of theft. Under Texas law, theft is the act of:

  • Taking money or property from another person without consent
  • Taking money or property with the intent of depriving the owner of that property

For example, suppose that Sarah works at a bank. She is given the responsibility of depositing customer cash into the safe at certain times during the day. With each deposit, she hides some cash for herself while making deposits. This is embezzlement and Sarah may be arrested and charged with theft.

In Texas, embezzlement is classified as a type of theft but it is unique from other types of theft. While a person who steals some items from a store may be charged with theft, a person who embezzles money from a business may be punished more severely. This is because, in many cases, embezzlement involves large sums of money stolen over time. Texas law assigns punishment for theft crimes based on the amount of money or property that is stolen.

Legal Punishments

The sentence for a theft conviction is a direct reflection of the severity of the theft. This means that the higher the value of the stolen property, the more severe the punishment will be.

Stealing or misappropriating more than $500 but less than $1500 can be punished with:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of up to $4000

Misusing or embezzling more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 can be punished with:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

In some cases, certain factors about the case can lead to enhanced punishments. For example, a person who is entrusted with the care of a disabled individual who embezzles money may face an enhanced penalty. In these cases, the penalty category may be enhanced to the next highest penalty level.

Recent Examples

In December of 2015, a town clerk in Onancock, Virginia was convicted of embezzlement after it was discovered that she was stealing money from the city. She was suspected of theft after other people noticed that money was suddenly going missing. Police were informed and hidden surveillance cameras were placed near her work area. She was eventually spotted pocketing money from the cash register after town residents paid their fines and fees.

A judge sentenced her to a term of probation but included some leniency because of her situation. She had recently completed a college degree, enabling her to obtain a higher paying job so that she could repay the $9000 that she stole. The judge allowed her to move to Texas to find a higher paying job on the condition that she remains on good behavior and repays her debt at $100 a month.

With the right kind of legal representation, people who are charged with embezzlement can work towards a favorable court settlement. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to negotiate with the court for a plea deal. In these cases, the defendant can enter a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence that replaces a jail sentence with probation, community service and mandatory restitution.

Are you being charged with embezzlement? It can be a confusing and scary experience. That’s why you need someone on your side that knows the law and can fight for your rights. Houston attorney Greg Tsioros can do just that. Contact his office today at (832) 752-5972.


Comments are closed.