Embezzlement is on the rise in today’s workplace, and the statistics indicate that companies of all sizes feel the impact. In a study, international specialty insurer Hiscox found that US companies lose around $1.13 million due to embezzling employees, and organizations having less than 500 workers comprise more than two-thirds of all cases. As a result, more businesses are implementing sophisticated training and advanced solutions, enabling them to detect and bring charges against employees.
If you were charged with embezzlement, it’s important to realize that these cases are different and more complex as compared to other types of white collar crimes. In addition, their unique nature means that – not only do you need a lawyer – but you’ll need to get own instead of relying on your company’s corporate counsel. As such, you should reach out to a Virginia embezzlement defense attorney and read on for some important information.
Overview of Virginia Embezzlement Laws: Virginia’s criminal statute on embezzlement describes the crime as a type of larceny in which a person wrongfully takes something through use of fraud. The key with embezzlement is that the rightful owner gave and entrusted the money, note, receipt, or other property to the individual at first. In other words, you could be arrested for embezzlement if the property was rightfully in your possession initially, but then you misappropriated it for your own use.
For illustration purposes, there are two scenarios where embezzlement charges are common:
- Employment, such as where your employer gives you cash with instructions to deposit into the company bank account; and,
- The corporate environment, where you have possession of company property because you’re an executive, but you convert it to your own use.
Harsh Penalties for a Conviction on Embezzlement: Virginia law punishes embezzlement based upon the value and/or type of property. When the item is worth less than $500, you could be charged with Petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.
You’ll face charges of Grand larceny in Virginia – a felony – if the property’s value is $500 or more. A conviction could mean at least 12 months and up to 20 years in prison. Plus, you could receive a maximum fine of $2,500 and be forced to pay restitution to the company or individual that was the victim of embezzlement. Depending on the amount at stake for each incident of embezzlement, plus interest, restitution could reach up to thousands of dollars.
Why You Need Your Own Embezzlement Defense Attorney: In the situation of a corporate executive charged with embezzlement, you should keep in mind that conflicts of interest will prevent you from using your company’s lawyer or legal department. These attorneys represent the organization and its executives, but ONLY in connection with your official duties on behalf the company. By embezzling company property, you’re acting as an individual. Retain your own lawyer, and it’s smart to look for one who:
- Has experience in criminal defense, specifically with cases involving theft offenses; and,
- Is knowledgeable regarding business law, which is essential for cases involving white collar crimes.
Discuss Your Case with a Virginia Embezzlement Defense Lawyer
Whether you were already arrested or believe you could soon be indicted, retaining skilled legal counsel is essential as early as possible in the criminal process. Our attorneys at Leary Law, P.C. are prepared to defend your interests in an embezzlement case, so please contact our office to learn more about how we can help. We’re happy to set up a consultation at our offices in Manassas or Fairfax, VA to review your case.