Embezzlement is defined as wrongfully using another person’s money or property for personal gain. Most allegations of embezzling are made by an employer against an employee, vender, business partner or independent contractor.
Theft from charities and non-profit organizations can also be classified as embezzlement.While embezzlement is punished as a theft crime in Texas, the charge differs from common larceny offenses because alleged offenders accused of embezzling often had legal access to money or property without legal ownership of it.
Many high-profile cases of financial misappropriation result in federal charges, but most embezzlement cases are prosecuted under state law. Embezzlement charges under Texas law including serious penalties, including a lengthy imprisonment sentence or a steep fine.
Lawyer in San Antonio, Texas for Embezzlement Crimes
If you are under investigation or already charged with a crime of embezzling funds from your employer, then immediately retain experienced legal counsel. The San Antonio criminal defense attorneys at Goldstein & Orr can fight to get the criminal charges you are facing significantly reduced or completely dismissed.
In some cases, we can negotiate a repayment plan in a civil case with the employer with a promise that the case will not be prosecuted as a crime in state or federal court.
Our lawyers can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options. Call (210) 226-1463 or send us an online contact form right now to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Embezzlement in Bexar County
- What are the possible consequences in Texas of an embezzlement conviction?
- When might the penalties be enhanced?
- Where can I learn more about embezzlement in the Lone Star State?
State law in Texas does not have a specific statute dedicated to embezzlement. Under Texas Penal Code § 31.02, crimes of this nature have been consolidated to be included among theft offenses.
As a result, the classification of an embezzlement crime and possible penalties are dependent upon the amount of money involved. Texas Penal Code § 31.03(e) establishes the following classifications and punishments, depending on the value of the property that was allegedly embezzled:
- Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 if the value of the property embezzled is less than $100;
- Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000 if the value of the property embezzled is $100 or more but less than $750, the value of the property embezzled is less than $100 and the alleged offender has been previously convicted of any grade of theft, or the property embezzled is a driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, or personal identification certificate issued by Texas or another state;
- Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000 if the value of the property embezzled is $750 or more but less than $2,500;
- State jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if the value of the property embezzled is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000, the property is less than 10 head of sheep, swine, or goats or any part thereof under the value of $30,000, the property is—regardless of value—stolen from the person of another or from a human corpse or grave—including property that is a military grave marker, the property embezzled is a firearm, the value of the property embezzled is less than $2,500 and the alleged offender has been previously convicted two or more times of any grade of theft, the property embezzled is an official ballot or official carrier envelope for an election, or the value of the property embezzled is less than $20,000 and the property embezzled is aluminum, bronze, copper, or brass;
- Felony of the third degree punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if the value of the property embezzled is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000, the property is cattle, horses, or exotic livestock or exotic fowl embezzled during a single transaction and having an aggregate value of less than $150,000, or 10 or more head of sheep, swine, or goats embezzled during a single transaction and having an aggregate value of less than $150,000;
- Felony of the second degree punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if the value of the property embezzled is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000, or the value of the property embezzled is less than $300,000 and the property embezzled is an automated teller machine or the contents or components of an automated teller machine; or
- Felony of the first degree punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if the value of the property embezzled is $300,000 or more.
In certain cases, alleged offenders can face increased punishment. Depending on the alleged embezzlement victim or actions an alleged offender may have taken, Texas Penal Code § 31.03(f) establishes that punishments can be enhanced if an alleged offense involves any of the following:
- The alleged offender was a public servant at the time of the offense and the property appropriated came into the alleged offender’s custody, possession, or control by virtue of the alleged offender’s status as a public servant;
- The alleged offender was in a contractual relationship with government at the time of the offense and the property appropriated came into the alleged offender’s custody, possession, or control by virtue of the contractual relationship;
- The owner of the property appropriated was at the time of the offense an elderly individual or a nonprofit organization;
- The alleged offender was a Medicare provider in a contractual relationship with the federal government at the time of the offense and the property appropriated came into the alleged offender’s custody, possession, or control by virtue of the contractual relationship; or
- During the commission of the alleged offense, the alleged offender intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused a fire exit alarm to sound or otherwise become activated, deactivated or otherwise prevented a fire exit alarm or retail theft detector from sounding, or used a shielding or deactivation instrument to prevent or attempt to prevent detection of the offense by a retail theft detector.
Under this statute, a punishment can be increased to the next higher category. This means, for example, an offense classified as a Class A misdemeanor can become a state jail felony.
Texas Penal Code | Title 7, Chapter 31 — You can review the full text of the theft chapter of the Texas Penal Code. In addition to theft classifications, you can also learn more about the definitions of terms used in this section of the Penal Code. You can also learn how property value is determined and what defenses are allowable or forbidden.
Attorney General of Texas | Charities and Nonprofits: Enforcement — The Office of the Attorney General has oversight authority for more than 50,000 active charitable organizations as well as countless trust entities. This section of the Attorney General website discusses the Attorney General’s responsibilities, types of problems the Attorney General frequently investigates, and types of cases the Attorney General does not generally investigate. You can also file a complaint on this website.
Lawyer for Embezzlement in San Antonio, TX
If you were arrested or suspect that you might be under investigation for alleged embezzlement in Texas, we recommend you immediately seek legal representation. Goldstein & Orr has been aggressively defending clients in San Antonio and surrounding areas of Bexar County since 1968.
Like most white collar crimes, embezzlement charges carry stiff consequences. Let our criminal defense attorneys in San Antonio see how we can help you by calling (210) 226-1463 to schedule a free consultation.