Embezzlement Defense Lawyer

Embezzlement is a form of larceny, or theft, that involves a person taking property and/or money that they were entrusted to manage by an employer or organization. Essentially, for a person to commit embezzlement, they must have had legal access to the property, but not ownership of it.  Embezzlement is a serious offense that can be prosecuted as a state crime and a federal crime.

Whatever your circumstances may be, if you are facing an investigation or charges for embezzlement, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney. The lawyers at Tarlton | Polk have a great deal of experience handling these kinds of charges and know just what is at stake, so do not hesitate to reach out to us for legal counsel

treasurer counting money for record keeping, possibly planning to embezzle undocumented funds

North Carolina Embezzlement Laws

As embezzlement is not only a crime of theft, but one of breaching organizational or public trust, the state of North Carolina punishes it quite harshly. All embezzlement crimes in the state are felonies, though the level or class of felony the crime falls under will mostly depend on which specific embezzlement law the defendant violated, as further detailed below:

Embezzlement of Entrusted Property

A person is guilty of embezzlement of property when they fraudulently or knowingly and willingly use another person’s or organization’s property for purposes other than what that other person or organization entrusted him or her to.

This is essentially a broad embezzlement law, where other laws exist to punished specific and more serious forms of embezzlement. To be more specific, this law applies to embezzlement of any money, goods or other valuable securities belonging to another person, corporation, charitable or religious foundation, or unincorporated organization (i.e. an organization that is not a legal entity and cannot own property).

Some examples of when this law applies include embezzlement by:

  • An employee taking money from their employer’s cash register or accounts.
  • Business partner misappropriating business funds.
  • Charity or religious organization treasurer taking funds from the organization.
  • Railroad officers embezzling money from a railroad company.

It is important to note that the defendant did not have to misappropriate the money or goods for personal use, simply giving the property to someone else can satisfy the elements of this law.

A conviction of this crime is punished as a class H felony unless the property is proven to have a value of $100,000 or more, which makes it a class C felony.

Embezzlement of State or Local Government Property

When it comes to embezzlement of a government entity from a public officer or employee, the penalties are even more severe. This law applies to embezzlement from any local or state government agency, including:

  • City, County or State government agencies
  • Local boards of education
  • Taxes collected by the state, county, school, city or town.

A conviction of this crime is punished as a class F felony unless the property is proven to have a value of $100,000 or more, which makes it a class C felony.

Federal Charges for Embezzlement

While most embezzlement cases can be handled in state court alone, embezzlement can also be charged as a federal crime if the property belonged to the U.S government or an interstate lending, credit or insurance institution like a credit union or bank.

Federal court is more daunting than state court and penalties can be even more severe. A conviction of embezzlement for property of valued less than $1,000 can result in fines up to $100,000 and a year-long prison sentence. Embezzlement of a value greater than $1,000 carries a penalty of a fine up to $250,000 and up to ten years in prison.

If you are facing embezzlement charges in the state of North Carolina and there may be a chance you will face federal charges too, you will need the legal counsel of a lawyer experienced in federal criminal defense, like the lawyers at Tarlton | Polk.

Defending Against Embezzlement Charges

State and federal agencies will spend significant time and resources to investigate and prosecute embezzlement. If you believe you are under investigation, you should find and hire an attorney immediately. The worst thing you can do in one of these situations is speak to these agencies without experienced legal counsel at your side to protect you, and possibly avoid charges altogether.

If you are facing charges, an experienced white-collar defense lawyer can help evaluate all the facts of the case and build a solid and credible defense. We always start by evaluating the likelihood of getting all charges dropped and securing your freedom and future employment prospects. If the evidence is not in your favor, we would recommend to move sensibly towards fighting to reduce penalties or be prosecuted under a lesser offense if applicable.

Our lawyers have successfully represented clients in embezzlement and other white-collar criminal cases at state and federal levels and know how to carefully structure a defense based on the facts of the case. Most importantly, we are exceptionally skilled at taking these cases to trial, as we know the tactics used white collar criminal prosecution that often push the defendant into a plea-bargaining position before a trial begins. If you would like to learn more about how we an help, or request a consultation with us, then leave us a message or call us today.

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