Embezzlement is the “fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted, or into whose hands it has lawfully come.” It’s important that you have someone fighting on your side if you’re being charged with this crime, because it carries a penalty of up to 25 years in state prison. In fact, even if police haven’t arrested you, it might be a good idea to call a Brooklyn embezzlement lawyer as soon as you think you may be in trouble.
Embezzlement is different from larceny because in embezzlement, the owner initially gave his or her consent to the person who took the property. In order for a person to be guilty of embezzlement, he or she must have had the intent to deprive owner of the property.
Here’s an interesting catch about embezzlement: if you take the property and intend to return it (or, as is often the case, you intend to pay the money back), it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter if you do return it eventually. A jury can still convict you of embezzlement.
Could the State Charge You with Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is one of the most-frequently committed crimes in the state of New York, and it’s one that the state pursues diligently. The technical name of embezzlement, at least under New York law, is grand larceny.
Grand larceny 4, which is commonly referred to as fourth-degree grand larceny, includes:
Larceny in which the value of the property exceeds $1,000
Theft of specific property
Theft from the person
Embezzlement often falls under this category, which is a Class E felony.
Grand larceny 3, also known as third-degree grand larceny, is theft when the value of the property taken exceeds $3,000. (Stealing from an automated teller machine is also considered third-degree grand larceny, but that doesn’t have anything to do with embezzlement). This is a Class D felony.
Grand larceny 2, or second-degree grand larceny, is a Class C felony. You can be convicted of second-degree grand larceny when the value of the stolen property exceeds $50,000.
Grand larceny 1, or first-degree grand larceny, is a Class B felony. A jury can convict you if the value of the stolen property exceeds $1 million.
Because embezzlement falls under these categories and the convictions are based on the value of the property, the prosecution is required to prove that you are guilty of having “the intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or herself (or to a third person), such person wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds such property from an owner of the property.”
Property refers to money, personal property, or anything else of value. When we’re talking about intent with regards to embezzlement, you must have meant to take the property from its rightful owner or to have kept it for yourself; you may even have meant to give it to someone else.
In order for a jury to convict you of embezzlement, you must have meant to:
Withhold the property or make sure it was permanently withheld from its rightful owner
Exercise control over the property or to help someone else exercise control over it permanently
Dispose of the property for your own benefit or for someone else’s benefit, or make it unlikely that the owner will recover it
However, there are other conditions that can cause a jury to convict you of embezzlement. If you took the property without the owner’s consent, control it (even for a short period of time) in a way that is inconsistent with the owner’s rights, a jury can convict you. That means even if you intended to repay money that you took, you could still be guilty of embezzlement.
The main idea behind embezzlement is that the crime is complete when you have the intent to take the money (or, in rare cases, property) from someone else.
What to Do if You’re Accused of Embezzlement in Brooklyn or Other Parts of New York City
If someone accuses you of embezzlement – whether you’re arrested for it or not – it’s important that you get in touch with a lawyer. This isn’t something you can gamble with or take your chances on in court. If a jury convicts you, you’ll be subject to New York’s harsh sentencing laws, which can result in you spending up to 25 years in a state prison.
Don’t waste another second. Call or text my cell phone at 917-856-1247 or send me a note. I will drop what I’m doing and start protecting your rights immediately. Do not talk to investigators, even if you’re innocent. Wait until I get there and we’ve had a chance to talk. Your future freedom might depend on it.