Stealing from your employer or company in any way is a crime in the state of Texas known as embezzlement. The source of the theft can range from your employer, clients or third parties related your profession. You can also be charged with embezzlement if you pinch money off a charity or a non-profit organization. The crime can include elements of fraud and in some cases, it’s revealed the embezzlement stemmed a larger fraudulent scheme.
Embezzlement may be a white-collar crime, but it’s a misconception that the penalties upon conviction are light. An embezzlement charge can result in a felony-level charge, which means you could be sentenced to prison. Thankfully, you do have options. If you or someone you know has been arrested for embezzlement, then it’s vital you seek an experienced criminal defense attorney for representation.
Embezzlement Attorney in Houston, Texas
Are you currently under investigation for embezzling funds from your lawyer? If so, then we highly encourage you to contact The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm is a reputable defense lawyer who has decades of experience under his belt. He has extensive experience with white collar crimes in the greater Houston area and wants to utilize his skills for your case.
Set up your first consultation free of charge by contacting The Benken Law Firm at (713) 223 - 4051. At the appointment, attorney Benken will review your case and then disclose to you all your legal options. The Benken Law Firm represents people throughout all parts of Harris County and the greater Houston area such as Alief, River Oaks, Houston, Pasadena, and Westchase.
Overview of Embezzlement Charges in Texas
- What Does Texas Classify as Embezzlement?
- What is the Penalty for Embezzlement?
- Aggravating Factors in Embezzlement Crimes
- Additional Resources
What Does Texas Classify as Embezzlement?
While some statutes have a specific statute for embezzlement, Texas does not. Instead the crime of embezzlement and other related offenses of this nature are consolidated under the theft statute or the Texas Penal Code Section 31.02. The statute lists the elements of the crime that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for the prosecution to secure a conviction. ‘
To convict, prosecutors must prove the alleged offender appropriated something of value from their employer, client or third-party related to the company without consent. The exchanged goods can range from money, services, items or property.
Listed below are some common ways a person can be charged with embezzlement.
- Shortchanging customers or clients;
- Taking money from the “petty cash” container;
- Pocketing the difference from a transaction;
- Refunding a stolen item from work to obtain cash;
- Writing and using company checks for a personal benefit;
- Issuing a fake loan without any type of authorization; or
- Redirecting company funds into a checkings or personal account
What is the Penalty for Embezzlement in Texas?
The penalties for the crime of embezzlement rely on the amount of money stolen overall. Offenders who embezzle less than $100 from their employer will face a class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a $500 fine. This is the lightest sentence a person can receive for embezzlement in Texas.
An embezzlement charge can be reclassified as a class B misdemeanor if it’s proven at trial that the alleged offender is guilty of one of the following. The maximum penalty for a class B misdemeanor is up to 180 days in jail and a possible fine of up to $2,000.
- Embezzling from their employer over $100, but less than $750;
- Embezzling less than $100 from their employer, but the offender has a prior conviction for any grade of theft; or
- The property embezzled was a driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, or personal identification certificate
The offense can be enhanced further if the embezzled property valued at $750 but was less than $2,500. If this proven true in trial, then the offender will face a class A misdemeanor instead. The penalty for a class A misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail as well as a fine of up to $4,000.
Embezzlement can be charged as a state jail felony if any of the following is proven true in a court of law. The maximum penalty for a state jail felony is up to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- The embezzled property is $2,500 or more, but less than $3,000;
- The offender embezzled 10 heads of sheep, swine, goats or any part there of under the value of $30,000;
- The embezzled property was a firearm;
- The value of the embezzled property is less than $2,500 and the offender has two prior convictions for any type of theft;
- The embezzled property is made up of aluminum, bronze, copper or brass and is valued at less than $20,000
Embezzlement is charged as a third-degree felony if any of the following factors are proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. The maximum sentence for a third-degree felony is up to five years in prison as well as a possible fine up to $10,000.
- The embezzled property is valued at $30,000 or more, but less than $150,000;
- The embezzled property is horses, cattle or exotic livestock or fowl with a collective value of less than $150,000; and
- The embezzled property is 10 or more heads of sheep, swine or goats embezzled with a collective value less than $150,000
Embezzlement is charged as a second-degree felony if the embezzled property is valued at $150,000 or more, but less than $300,000. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison as well as a possible fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravating Factors for Embezzlement Crimes in Texas
What the property is and how much it’s valued at isn’t the only determining factor when sentencing a person for embezzlement. If the prosecution proves certain aggravating factors are true beyond a reasonable doubt, then the judge will likely reclassify the charge to the next higher offense class. For example, if you were arrested for a class C misdemeanor charge and one of the following factors were proven true in court, then your crime would be reclassified as a class B misdemeanor instead. Meaning harsher penalties, more jail time and higher fines.
Listed below are the aggravating factors for embezzlement under Texas law.
- The offender was in a contractual relationship with the government and stole form their employer;
- The offender’s employer or client they embezzled from is an elderly individual or a non-profit organization;
- The offender was a public servant at the time, and they embezzled from their employer, clients or a third-party related to their profession;
- The offender worked for Medicare at the time and embezzled from their employer;
- During the commission of the crime, the offender intentionally sounded the fire exit alarm so they could distract attention from themselves
Texas Embezzlement Laws – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to learn more about Texas’s embezzlement laws. Access the site to find more information regarding theft, petit theft, embezzlement, and other types of larceny under Texas law. Learn the charge elements, penalties, and admissible defenses in court.
Charities and Nonprofit Enforcement – Visit the official website for the Attorney General for Texas, Ken Paxton. Access the site to find more information regarding issues with nonprofits the Attorney General investigates, what they cannot investigate, and access to an online complaint form for nonprofits and charities who are acting suspiciously.
Embezzlement Defense Attorney in Houston, TX
The punishments for embezzlement may range, but in every scenario you could possibly face time behind bars and be required to pay steep fines. Instead of rolling over and allowing a conviction, fight back. Get in touch with the experienced and skilled Texas criminal defense lawyer Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm.
Attorney Brian Benken has been practicing criminal defense for years with a strong focus on financial crimes. He has the right knowledge, skills and resources needed to fight your charges. To learn more, get in contact with The Benken Law Firm at (713) 223 - 4051. The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County and Houston area including Braeswood Place, Uptown, Downtown Houston, Sunnyside and The Heights.