Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 section 30 governs the crime of embezzlement. Embezzlement is a special form of theft in which an individual has access to and control over the property that is stolen, but not ownership of that property. Embezzlement can occur in many forms. For example, a bank teller has access to funds in his or her teller’s drawer. If the bank teller takes money out of the drawer and pockets it for his personal use, he has committed embezzlement. Likewise, an elderly caregiver who handles the finances of an older client, and takes money from that client without the intent to return it would commit embezzlement. In more complex cases, a corporation’s chief financial officer who takes money from the corporation’s checking account commits embezzlement.
What these cases have in common is an individual who has access to someone else’s money due to being in a position of trust with respect to that other person, and then takes that money without the owner’s consent. The difference between embezzlement and larceny (commonly called stealing) is that with larceny, the defendant does not have any rightful access or control over the property stolen. The key factor in embezzlement cases is that the defendant has actual control over the property stolen.
To convict a defendant of embezzlement, the prosecutor must prove three elements: First, the prosecutor must establish that the defendant was in a position of trust or confidence with another person and was entrusted with possession of the personal property of that other person. Second, that the defendant took, hid, or converted the property to his or her own use without the owner’s consent. And third, that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property when he took, hid, or converted it. Thus, if the defendant takes the property of another by mistake, or with the intent to repay the owner, the defendant has not committed the crime of embezzlement.
Punishment for embezzlement is identical to punishment for stealing, and sentences vary depending on the amount of money or the value of the property stolen. Embezzlement under $250 is a misdemeanor, and carries a sentence of up to 1 year in jail or a fine of up to $300.00. Punishment for a conviction of embezzlement over $250 or for embezzlement of a firearm carries up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of $25,000.00.
Embezzlement Defense at Altman & Altman, LLP
Embezzlement is thus a very serious crime and if you have been charged with embezzlement or are being investigated for embezzlement, you should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced in white-collar defense, and embezzlement in particular. You need an attorney who understands the law, will advocate for you relentlessly, and who can negotiate with prosecutors to find favorable resolutions for your case.
Contact the expert criminal defense attorneys at the law offices of Altman & Altman for a free and confidential case consultation. Our trial attorneys have decades of successful criminal defense experience, including white collar and embezzlement defense. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Choosing your attorney is a crucial decision. You need a lawyer with a track record of success, and one who will be accessible throughout the process of resolving your case. Altman & Altman’s criminal defense team has the knowledge, resources, and experience to help you. Call us today.