Understanding Pennsylvania Embezzlement Laws

Understanding Pennsylvania Embezzlement Laws

When you think about embezzlement in Pennsylvania, you might imagine someone who works for a large company funneling away substantial sums from their employer to their personal accounts. While some embezzlement cases fit this scenario, this offense does not need to involve huge sums or working for a big corporation. Embezzlement in Pennsylvania is a type of theft crime that is considered to be a white-collar criminal offense. If you are convicted of embezzlement, you can expect to face harsh penalties that will depend on the value of the property or the money that you stole. If you are convicted of embezzling a substantial amount of money or property, you can expect to receive a harsher penalty if you are convicted. At DiCindio Law, we understand how to defend against embezzlement charges and will work to build the strongest possible defense for you.

What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a type of theft that can be charged in Pennsylvania. The theft offenses can be found at 18 § 3921 and other related statutes. Theft occurs when you take someone else’s property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive him or her of the property. Embezzlement is a specific kind of theft. To be convicted of this offense, the prosecutor will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you got possession of the property or money through an agreement or a fiduciary duty and then used it for your financial gain.

Embezzlement involves a person who is entrusted with property or money by the rightful owner. When you have a legal obligation to protect another person’s or entity’s money or property, you owe the owner a fiduciary duty. This makes embezzlement a theft that is committed when you breach your fiduciary duty.

You can breach your fiduciary duty in a few different ways. For example, you might use deception or fraud to embezzle the funds. Regardless of the tactics that you used, using your position to steal property or money from the owner for your personal financial gain is a crime.

Some of the types of people who have fiduciary duties include the following:

  • Trustees
  • Investment portfolio managers
  • Bank tellers
  • Corporate executives
  • Bookkeepers

All of these types of people have duties to protect the assets of others. When they instead take the assets to benefit themselves, they have committed embezzlement.

Potential for other charges

Since Pennsylvania doesn’t include a single statute for embezzlement, prosecutors frequently add other charges against defendants who are accused of this offense. For example, if you engaged in fraud to obtain the property or money, you may be charged with fraud as well as a theft offense.

There are different types of fraud, and each of them involves intentionally engaging in an act of deception. For example, a fraud offense might be charged if you created fake documents or engaged in identity theft to access the funds that you are accused of embezzling.

To be charged with embezzlement, you must have had a position of responsibility for the property or money that was allegedly stolen. You might have been granted access to the funds by your employer and used them instead of protecting them.

Under federal law, embezzlement is one of the offenses that are listed in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO Act. Depending on the circumstances of your alleged offense, you could be charged federally under the RICO Act. Federal charges carry even stiffer penalties than state convictions.

What are the penalties for embezzlement in Pennsylvania?

The penalties that you might face if you are convicted of embezzlement under Pennsylvania’s state laws will depend on the value of the property or money that you stole. In many cases, the penalties will include fines, incarceration, and restitution.

If you are convicted of embezzlement, the penalties that you will face will depend on the value of the property or money that was stolen as follows:

  • Under $50 – Fine up to $2,500 and jail up to one year
  • $50 to $199 – Fine up to $5,000 and jail up to two years
  • $200 to $1,999 – Fine up to $10,000 and jail up to five years
  • $2,000 or more – Fine up to $15,000 and prison up to seven years
  • $500,000 or more – First-degree felony with a fine up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in prison

If you are convicted of embezzling property or money valued at $2,000 or more, you will have a felony on your record. Having any type of theft conviction on your record can have an ongoing impact on your life even after you have completed your sentence. People who are convicted of embezzlement may have trouble finding jobs and housing. However, it is important to understand that being charged with a crime does not mean that you will be convicted. If you work with an experienced attorney who understands how to defend against embezzlement charges, you might avoid a conviction.

Get help from DiCindio Law

If you have been charged with embezzlement in Pennsylvania, you should talk to an experienced defense lawyer at DiCindio Law. As a former prosecutor, Michael DiCindio knows how the state builds its cases against people who are charged with all types of criminal offenses, including white-collar crimes. This helps him to anticipate the arguments that might be made so that he can counter them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535.