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Understanding embezzlement charges in Texas

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | White Collar Crimes

Embezzlement is a white-collar crime in Texas that comes with serious penalties. Embezzlement can generally occur in any type of business at any level.

The impact of an embezzlement accusation or charge on an individual or business can be devastating, which is why it is important to take a charge of embezzlement seriously and prepare a strong defense.

What is embezzlement?

A basic definition of embezzlement is when an employee takes money or other assets from their employer and converts it for their own personal use. It can be difficult for the prosecution to prove embezzlement beyond a reasonable doubt without irrefutable evidence.

However, evidence that an employee stole money or an asset from their employer, produced and used phony business records or transferred funds from a business account to a personal account are circumstantial evidence of embezzlement. This could be enough for an embezzlement charge.

Texas embezzlement penalties

The penalties for embezzlement often depend on the specific situation. Some factors that determine the penalty include the position of the person accused of embezzlement, the amount that was taken and the item that was taken.

Regardless, Texas criminal penalties for embezzlement are strict. If you are found guilty of embezzling an amount of up to $1,500, the crime is a misdemeanor but you could still receive a sentence of up to two years in jail.

Once the amount is over $1,500, embezzlement becomes a felony. When the amount is over $20,000, prison time becomes a possibility. If you are convicted of first-degree embezzlement, you face up to 99 years in prison.

Embezzlement defenses

Although these penalties are serious, there are several common defenses you could assert against an embezzlement charge. Remember that there must be proof you took the money.

It sounds simple, but without evidence you took the money, there is no case. If there is evidence you took it, showing that you took it for a legitimate business purpose can be a defense.

Lack of intent is a commonly used defense against embezzlement. You are only guilty if you knew the money you were taking was not yours. This element is often very difficult for the prosecution to prove.

The defenses available to you depend on your specific situation. You are allowed to see the evidence the prosecution intends to use against you, which can help you develop a defense.