Embezzlement is a white-collar crime that involves theft. Embezzlement occurs when a person responsible for managing someone else’s money or assets steals those assets for personal gain. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a defendant could face federal or state embezzlement charges. An embezzlement conviction carries serious penalties, including jail time and significant fines, and can damage a person’s personal life and career opportunities.
The experienced lawyers at Carter/Pilgrim have extensive experience representing clients in embezzlement cases. We work diligently to protect our clients’ rights and secure the best possible outcome for them. All of our attorneys have significant courtroom experience and a history of successfully negotiating with prosecutors on behalf of clients. The sooner you speak with an experienced lawyer, the sooner your lawyer can begin developing an effective legal defense. Contact our Atlanta defense lawyers to schedule your initial consultation.
Understanding Embezzlement Charges
The crime of embezzlement involves a person stealing money or property from another person or business without permission. Embezzlement is different from other types of theft because it requires the victim to have entrusted the defendant with access to the money or property. Many of these cases involve an employee with access to his employer’s bank accounts stealing money from the employer’s time. Prosecutors must prove the following elements to obtain an embezzlement conviction against the defendant:
- The defendant intentionally took money or property from the victim
- The defendant took the money or property for his or her personal gain
- The defendant was in a position of trust with access to the money or property
- The defendant did not have permission to take the money or property
Embezzlement is considered a white-collar crime as it most often occurs in corporate settings. The term “white-collar crimes” describes crimes committed by professionals with high social status who work in the corporate world. Many people assume that white-collar crimes aren’t as serious as other types of crimes like murder or robbery. Still, embezzlement penalties can be serious, especially when the defendant and embezzles a significant amount of money or property.
Common Types of Embezzlement
Though investment is considered a white-collar crime, it can happen in nearly any professional setting. Embezzlement has occurred in nonprofit organizations, churches, and even among family members. Likewise, the amount of property stolen through embezzlement varies widely. In some cases, a cashier working at a retail store will occasionally steal a $20 bill from the register. In other cases, a corporate employee will steal millions of dollars over ten years. In many cases, law enforcement officials will begin to suspect embezzlement because the employee will begin taking greater amounts from the employer. Any employee may begin taking $100 per paycheck for a few weeks, then gradually increase that amount over time.
One common form of embezzlement is called lapping. Lapping involves skimming money off the top of transfers between accounts. An employee will transfer money from a customer’s account to another account. When transferring the money, the employee takes a portion of the money and keeps it. The employee will then take money from another funded account and transfer it into the deficient account to cover up the lapping. Lapping requires the employee to keep detailed records and notes.
Most businesses are completely dependent on the internet and computer systems, providing ample opportunities for embezzlement. Employees can input false data into their employer’s bookkeeping software and manipulate the numbers within the software to account for the money they steal.
Determining the Value of the Assets Involved
The penalties for embezzlement depend on the value of the stolen money or property. Courts must determine the value of the property that the defendant allegedly stole before they can issue a sentence. Georgia courts use the following factors to determine the value of the assets at the time of the alleged embezzlement:
- The fair market value of the assets determined by a quote from a supplier who has experience selling assets of a similar value
- Rental fees for the period in which the victim didn’t have access to the stolen assets
- Interest on assets that haven’t been reimbursed at the legal rates
The Penalties for Embezzlement in Georgia
The penalties for embezzlement in Georgia vary depending on the type of property that was stolen and the value of the assets. The penalties for embezzlement in Georgia include the following:
- When the asset is valued at $500 or less, the penalty is a jail sentence of up to one year and a $1,000 fine
- When the defendant embezzled public property or money in breach of his or her fiduciary duty, the penalty is a jail sentence of up to one to 15 years and a fine of up to $1,000
- When the defendant embezzled motor vehicle parts worth $100, the penalty is a one to a ten-year prison sentence for the first offense and up to 20 years in prison for subsequent offenses
- Embezzlement involving the commercial transport of cargo in vehicles carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000
- Embezzlement of explosives or firearms can carry a one to a 10-year prison sentence
- Embezzlement of un-harvested agriculture products carries a minimum fine of $500
Contact an Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you face embezzlement charges or suspect that you’re under investigation, you need an experienced lawyer to protect your legal rights. The skilled lawyers at Carter/Pilgrim are here to help you. The sooner you speak with an experienced lawyer, the sooner your lawyer can investigate your charges and begin developing an effective defense strategy. Contact our Atlanta embezzlement attorneys today to learn how we can fight to defeat your criminal charges.