Put simply, embezzlement is stealing. Embezzlement involves stealing property that was entrusted to your care or using it for your own gain. In other terms, Embezzlement crimes come from a position of trust. Embezzlement commonly stems from an employee/employer relationship or in the workplace but may stem from a family relationship or even a friend.
Michigan Law defines embezzlement as when an agent or employee of an individual, business, or the government uses his or her position of trust to fraudulently take the property, valuables, or proprietary information. (MCL 750.174)
Examples of this criminal conduct: a bank teller taking money when a customer makes a deposit; a trustee of an estate using trust assets to purchase items such as clothing, trips, or meals for themselves; a business employee using the company credit card for personal expenses.
Michigan Law has gone on to define the “fraud” or “fraudulent” definition of the crime of embezzlement. Fraud is the misrepresentation of facts through lies, omissions that deceive others in a way that is calculated to benefit the person making the misrepresentation, or misleading statements.
Similar to other theft crimes, penalties in embezzlement crimes range in severity depending on the value of the property alleged to be stolen or used, and the vulnerability of the victim.
Common embezzlement charges:
- Embezzlement less than $200: a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail.
- Embezzlement $200 or more but less than $1,000: a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
- Embezzlement $1,000 or more but less than $20,000: a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
- Embezzlement $20,000 or more but less than $50,000: a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.
- Embezzlement $50,000 or more but less than $100,000: a felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
- Embezzlement $100,000 or more: a felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison.
The majority of individuals convicted of embezzlement do not fit the typical profile of a criminal. According to a national study regarding embezzlement crimes throughout the United States, the most likely offender of embezzlement is a woman in her forties with no criminal history. A common misconception is that most people embezzle funds to finance a drug, gambling, or addiction habit. In reality, two-thirds of people convicted of embezzlement do so to maintain their lifestyle or to pay their outstanding bills and/or debts.
Embezzlement is a serious charge that often raises complex legal issues. If you are convicted, you could not only face jail time and fines but also an obligation to pay restitution (or payback) the victim, damage to your reputation, your ability to obtain employment in the future, and a permanent criminal record. In some cases, an embezzlement conviction can impact your ability to vote or own a firearm. It is essential that you retain the services of an experienced Grand Rapids embezzlement attorney for your case. Don’t leave your case and future up to chance.
A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to discuss all of the possibilities of building a defense for your case, whether that means showing the inconsistencies in the evidence the prosecutor thinks they have, to arguing that you lawfully took the money because you were entitled to it, and so much more. Every criminal case is different and we offer tailored and specific representation that is unique to your case, your situation, and your life. We pride ourselves on our communication with our clients. You will work directly with your embezzlement criminal defense attorney on your case and you will always have direct access to your attorney. Our goal is to provide each of our clients with the best chance possible as they face the criminal justice system.