What is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a form of theft. However, unlike a common theft, you cannot commit embezzlement against just anyone. For a person to commit embezzlement of some property, they must have a preexisting relationship with the property’s owner. Specifically, embezzlement occurs only when a person has a legal right to hold the property on its owner’s behalf prior to stealing it.

For example, bankers can commit embezzlement when they have client funds under their control. If they take this money and place it into their own account rather than the client’s, this could be considering embezzling.

Many states treat embezzlement as a separate crime from simple theft with harsher available penalties for a conviction. However, as an experienced federal embezzlement lawyer in Syracuse could tell you, the federal statute does not make this distinction.

Defining Embezzlement Under Federal Law

The federal government makes it illegal for any person to steal, embezzle, or otherwise take federal property—which can entail money, vehicles, vouchers, and/or office equipment—without permission under 18 U.S.C. §641. This statute makes no distinction between the circumstances that lead to the theft.

Furthermore, this statute applies to both direct theft from the federal government and theft committed against companies that are conducting government business. For example, if a government contractor is working to fulfill an order, any theft from that contractor related to government property that they are creating could be considered a theft from the government according to the statute. A Syracuse federal embezzlement attorney could provide further clarification about the precise circumstances that could lead to a federal criminal charge for embezzlement.

Federal Punishments for Embezzlement Convictions

The range of sentencing for a federal embezzlement conviction depends on the value of the items allegedly taken. The offense is a misdemeanor whenever the value of the item is $1,000 or less. A conviction here could result in a maximum jail sentence of one year and the payment of a fine. In addition, the defendant may be ordered to pay restitution to the government for the value of the property.

When the value of the item exceeds $1,000, however, a federal court would consider the offense a felony. This increases the potential prison sentence to a maximum of ten years. Additional fines and restitution orders may still apply as well.

What a Syracuse Federal Embezzlement Attorney Could Do to Help

For the purpose of the federal law, all thefts, whether committed by simple taking, deception, or embezzlement, are punished in the same harsh way. As such, allegations of embezzlement from the federal government are always serious matters.

A Syracuse federal embezzlement lawyer from Tully Rinckey PLLC could help you dispute such charges in court. On top of that, our legal team could work to defend your rights and best interests during every phase of your case, from hearings concerning bail to pre-trial evidentiary motions to final verdicts in court. Call today at (315) 492-4700 to see how we can help you, or email for more information.

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