Embezzlement is unfortunately an occurrence that is extremely prevalent in our country, especially by employees. In fact, every year, around $50 billion is stolen from U.S. businesses by employees, according to a prominent report in 2015. However, North Carolina’s embezzlement statute prohibits individuals from stealing other’s assets or property, and subsequently offers protection and compensation to those who have been victimized.
This means that individuals who successfully prove and litigate an embezzlement case can receive restitution. On the other hand, those charged with embezzlement will face serious consequences depending on the extent of their actions. However, regardless if you are the victim of embezzlement or the accused, it’s important to know what embezzlement entails, the penalties associated with this charge, and other crucial information involved to achieve your desired results. That is why our Raleigh defense and criminal law attorneys are here to not only provide you with the information you need, but to also assist you throughout the entirety of your embezzlement case.
What is Embezzlement?
Ultimately, embezzlement is defined as the theft or misappropriation of assets owned by one individual that were placed in the care of another individual. In other words, embezzlement occurs when an individual steals assets which they are responsible for or trusted to manage. Typically, embezzlement is most prominent in the corporate environment.
Examples of Embezzlement
Some common examples of embezzlement are as follows: a bank teller or store clerk steals money, which they have lawful possession of, from the business owner during a business transaction. Or, an employee, who holds lawful possession of company property, such as a company vehicle, laptop, or other company assets, steals such property. Ultimately, embezzlement is committed when an asset is stolen from an individual by another individual who was, at one point, trusted with the stolen assets.
The means by which individuals commit embezzlement vary significantly. In most cases, embezzlers steal either smaller amounts over a long period of time, or take a single, large amount once. Individuals generally obtain the stolen assets via fraudulent billing, the falsification of records, financial schemes, payroll checks to fabricated employees, and other similar schemes. Unfortunately, the methods of embezzlement are never predictable, as such schemes are becoming increasingly creative.
What Are the Qualifications for an Embezzlement Charge?
In order for an embezzlement charge to be supported, the following criteria must be met:
- A fiduciary relationship must be present between the two parties, and a reliance upon one party by the other.
- A fiduciary relationship is defined as: A relationship in which an individual places complete confidence, trust, and reliance in someone who has a fiduciary duty to act for the individual’s benefit. A fiduciary relationship need not be formally or legally established; it may be assumed where the fiduciary has superior knowledge and training compared to the person whose affairs the fiduciary is handling.
- The accused must have acquired the property through the relationship.
- The accused’s actions were intentional.
- The defendant must have taken ownership of the property or have transferred the property to someone else.
If all of this criteria is met, the embezzlement charge is valid. However, if any property was stolen without a fiduciary relationship involved, then larceny has been committed, and not embezzlement.
What Legal Action Can be Taken Against Embezzlement?
Victims of embezzlement seeking to gain restitution have the option of litigation to restore their belongings. Once the prosecutor has successfully proven the embezzlement charge to be valid and the defendant to be guilty of the crime, they will receive compensation, in one form or another.
If you desire to take legal action against an instance of embezzlement, it is crucial to obtain assistance from an experienced professional. Embezzlement cases and laws can be complex, especially those in North Carolina, which is why it is important to consult with a Raleigh criminal law attorney in order to receive your desired results. Our team at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas are always here to assist you, and will aggressively represent you to right the wrong you have experienced and ensure you receive compensation.
What are the Legal Consequences of Embezzlement Charges?
The North Carolina General Statute 14-90 details what the ramifications of embezzlement are. Although the exact sentence depends on several factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history and the value of the stolen property, generally, the accused will be charged with either of the following:
- Class H felony. If the value of the embezzled property is less than $100,000, then the defendant will be charged with a Class H felony. A Class H felony for first-time offenders results in 5 to 6 months of incarceration, while those with a criminal record are incarcerated for a longer period of time that is specified by the judge, depending on the factors involved.
- Class C felony. If the embezzled property exceeds the value of $100,000, the embezzler will be charged with a Class C felony. A Class C felony results in 58 to 73 months of incarceration.
- Restitution may be ordered in any case. Restitution involves the compensation of the property that was stolen, either immediately or in smaller installments. In some cases, specific terms of probation will also remain intact until the last installment has been paid.
What Do I Do if I Have Been Accused of Embezzlement?
If you or a loved one have been accused of embezzlement, it is extremely important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Dealing with embezzlement charges is a complex and serious matter that can dramatically influence your life, so it is important to consult with an experienced defense attorney to ensure that you are properly represented and that any charges are minimized. With years of experience in criminal law, our Raleigh defense attorneys know what it takes to aggressively and effectively defend our clients, and we can certainly assist you with your case. Embezzlement charges are something that you should never underestimate, so contact a Raleigh defense attorney immediately.
Contact Our Raleigh Criminal Law and Defense Attorneys for Assistance with Your Embezzlement Case Today.
Whether you are the prosecutor or the defendant, having an exceptional attorney to assist you is crucial in achieving your desired results. Embezzlement is not a straightforward matter, especially in North Carolina, which is why seeking assistance is incredibly helpful. With over 65 years of experience at hand, our team at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas can effectively represent you in your embezzlement case and diligently work with you to ensure ideal results.
Contact our Raleigh criminal law and defense attorneys today at 919-615-2473 or complete the contact form below.
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