Virginia Embezzlement Basics
Embezzlement is a type of larceny, or stealing. However, embezzlement is different than other kinds of theft and Virginia law explicitly separates embezzlement and larceny. A trial memorandum from Henrico County Circuit Court provides that: “The key distinction between embezzlement and larceny is that larceny involves a trespassory taking of property while embezzlement involves a conversion of property received in trust or with the owner’s consent.” In other words, larceny is when property is taken from another without their consent. Conversely, with embezzlement, the property of another is willingly handed over to another person initially, but the person who has been entrusted with the money or property takes it as their own without permission.
From example, if someone walks into a store and steals money from the cash register, that would be larceny. Consider, for example, a situation in which the same person gets a job at the store and is given access to the cash register as part of their job. This person has the store’s consent to be handling the money; if this person then takes some of that money home to keep, then that is embezzlement. It can sometimes be a difficult distinction depending on the case. In order to convict someone of embezzlement, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to not only prove the taking of the property, but also that the property was initially given to the person with the consent of the owner or an agent of the owner.
As with larceny, the penalties and charges for embezzlement depend on the amount, or the value of the property, that was stolen.
If the amount that was stolen is valued at $200 or less, it is classified as a Class One misdemeanor. The penalty for this crime is up to 12 months in jail, and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. If the value of the property stolen is more than $200, it is a felony. Virginia designates embezzlement in this category as a “Class U” felony, meaning it is unclassified. The penalty for a conviction on this charge is a fine of up to $2,500 and/or jail time of up to 20 years.
Along with the penalties listed above, courts also will often make people convicted of embezzlement pay restitution. Restitution is money that is paid back to the victim of a crime by the perpetrator to make up for the property that they stole or damaged. Restitution is a way for the court to help the victim recoup some or all of their losses.
Leesburg Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are charged with embezzlement or any other crime in northern Virginia, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side to defend against the charges. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP in Leesburg, Virginia can help argue your innocence or get the charges reduced.