An embezzlement defense attorney helps all kinds of people caught up with this type of allegation. You may see embezzlement cases in the news when a high-profile individual in a large corporation is charged with stealing his employer’s money.
But embezzlement can be charged in any number of situations, using state and federal statutes, covering any amount of money. If you believe you’re being investigated for embezzlement or have been charged with this crime in the Columbia, SC, area, you need the help of a criminal defense attorney.
Contact an embezzlement defense lawyer at the Leventis Law Firm by calling (803) 256-0113 or filling out our online contact form.
Embezzlement is normally charged when someone in a position of trust takes advantage of their access to money or other valuable items and takes them for personal use. This is the “inside job” involving theft, not someone walking through the front door with a gun demanding money or a person breaking and entering to steal (though the end result is the same). Embezzlement is considered a white-collar crime, though it’s not just highly paid employees in management positions who are accused of the crime.
South Carolina Embezzlement Laws
Depending on the circumstances, someone accused of embezzlement could face South Carolina or federal criminal charges. Under state law there are different statutes covering embezzlement of public and private funds. Potential penalties increase with the amount embezzled. It’s a felony to embezzle public funds and considered larceny when private funds are involved.
Under state law there potentially could be criminal charges for any amount embezzled. Penalties include fines and a prison sentence of up to ten years.
- SECTION 16-13-210. Embezzlement of public funds: This is defined as “an officer or other person charged with the safekeeping, transfer, and disbursement of public funds” embezzling money. Those convicted would be considered felons and face a fine that would be determined by the judge in light of the amount stolen or the defendant could serve a prison sentence.
- The maximum sentence is ten years in prison if the amount is $10,000 or more.
- If the amount is less than that, the maximum sentence is five years.
- SECTION 16-13-230. Breach of trust with fraudulent intent: This statute would apply if someone is charged with “committing a breach of trust with a fraudulent intention or a person who hires or counsels another person to commit a breach of trust with a fraudulent intention…” This would be considered larceny under the law. Penalties differ based on the amount involved:
- $2,000 or less, the person will be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or be imprisoned not more than thirty days
- Between $2,000 and $10,000, the defendant will be fined at the discretion of the court or be imprisoned not more than five years
- $10,000 or more, the person will be fined at the discretion of the court or be imprisoned not more than ten years.
Federal Criminal Laws Concerning Embezzlement
There are a number of statutes covering situations where the money or items have some connection to the federal government. One statute, 18 U.S.C. §31 , covers embezzlement and theft. Subsection 641 shows you how wide a net federal prosecutors have to charge someone. It states:
Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof; or
Whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; but if the value of such property in the aggregate, combining amounts from all the counts for which the defendant is convicted in a single case, does not exceed the sum of $1,000, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Federal embezzlement charges can be filed without evidence of actual theft. Under another section, if …
- An officer, employee or agent of the U.S. or of any department or agency
- Has federal money not part of his or her pay, and
- Fails to render required accounts of public money as provided by federal law,
- They’re guilty of embezzlement.
Federal law enforcement and prosecutors normally have greater resources to pursue a conviction than local or state agencies. If you are facing federal embezzlement charges, retain an embezzlement defense attorney so you won’t need to face all the force the federal government can throw at you alone.
An Embezzlement Defense Attorney Can Help
If you or someone you love and care about has been charged with embezzlement, The Leventis Law Firm embezzlement defense attorneys in South Carolina will work tirelessly and exhaust every avenue available to represent the defendant’s best interest, every step of the way. We are passionate about fighting to defend our clients and have the experience and knowledge required to handle cases involving even the most grievous of criminal charges. Contact us by calling (803) 256-0113 or filling out our online contact form today to learn how we can help.