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Do I Need a Specialized Defense to Fight Embezzlement Charges?

If you have been charged with embezzlement, it's important to remember that while you may not feel like anyone was hurt from the incident, it's still a very serious crime. Embezzlement is often called employee theft or misappropriation of funds. When an employee or a person in a position of trust uses funds in their charge for an intention other than authorized work expenditures, it's a crime. As mentioned earlier, this crime is typically charged against employees.

What is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement, Idaho Code § 18-2403, is classified as a federal white-collar crime because it involves businesses and their relationships. Idaho considers embezzlement to be a mode of theft, so embezzlement happens when employees borrow money, abuse their access to company equipment, remove cash, securities, or petty cash and secure it as their own property or return it at their leisure. Even if an employee claims to have "borrowed" the property or money, it's still considered embezzlement. A key characteristic of embezzlement charges involves how the money was stolen. So, even if you have permission to be in possession of money or an item and it's being used for non-work purposes and has been taken from your employer, then it's against the law. In an example from the news, a woman employed by a church embezzled money over several years using specialized software intended for payroll expenditures. She was an employee and member of the church and is facing almost 20 years in federal prison. Embezzlement is a form of theft used by a person in a position of trust. In the incident with the church employee, she was a money manager and member of the church. She had unfettered access to all the church's money.

What is the Punishment for Embezzlement in Idaho?

Because embezzlement crimes are categorized as a mode of theft, any criminal penalties and fines will be determined by Idaho Code 18-2407, which grades theft using criteria like the amount of money stolen, the severity of the crime, and the criminal history of the charged individual. Theft crimes in Idaho that fall into the category of embezzlement will be charged depending on which of the following theft types corresponds to the evidence in the case.

The penalties for theft crimes according to the Idaho Code are:

  • Petty Theft, Idaho Code §18-2407, is stealing property under $1000, which is a misdemeanor offense. The crime carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of no more than $1000 upon conviction.
  • Grand Theft, Idaho Code §18-2408, is a serious crime that carries severe penalties and hefty fines. The crime carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison and a fine of $5000 or more. Any grand theft charge is considered a felony, which carries lifelong ramifications.

According to Idaho Code 18-2407, Grading of Theft, theft crimes are divided into two degrees, grand theft and petit theft.

(1) Grand theft.

(a) A person is guilty of grand theft when he commits a theft as defined in this chapter and when the property, regardless of its nature and value, is obtained by extortion committed by instilling in the victim a fear that the actor or another person will:

1. Cause physical injury to some person in the future; or

2. Cause damage to property; or

3. Use or abuse his position as a public servant by engaging in conduct within or related to his official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely.

(b) A person is guilty of grand theft when he commits a theft as defined in this chapter and when:

1. The value of the property taken exceeds one thousand dollars ($1,000); or

2. The property consists of a public record, writing or instrument kept, filed or deposited according to law with or in the keeping of any public office or public servant; or

3. The property consists of a check, draft or order for the payment of money upon any bank, or a check, draft or order account number, or a financial transaction card or financial transaction card account number as those terms are defined in section 18-3122, Idaho Code; or

4. The property, regardless of its nature or value, is taken from the person of another; or

5. The property, regardless of its nature and value, is obtained by extortion; or

6. The property consists of one (1) or more firearms, rifles or shotguns; or

7. The property taken or deliberately killed is livestock or any other animal exceeding one hundred fifty dollars ($150) in value.

8. When any series of thefts, comprised of individual thefts having a value of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or less, are part of a common scheme or plan, the thefts may be aggregated in one (1) count and the sum of the value of all of the thefts shall be the value considered in determining whether the value exceeds one thousand dollars ($1,000); or

9. The property has an aggregate value over fifty dollars ($50.00) and is stolen during three (3) or more incidents of theft during a criminal episode. For purposes of this subparagraph a "criminal episode" shall mean a series of unlawful acts committed over a period of up to three (3) days; or

10. The property is anhydrous ammonia.

(2) Petit theft. A person is guilty of petit theft when he commits a theft as defined in this chapter and his actions do not constitute grand theft.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

While it may seem like embezzlement is just a simple theft charge, you could find yourself in serious trouble. Depending on the scope of your embezzlement charge, you could be facing grand theft charges, which is an automatic felony offense regardless of whether you have prior offense or not. Being convicted of embezzlement can derail your future and leave you behind bars or on the fringes of society unable to find employment. When the charges are serious, and you're facing life-altering consequences, you need a confident defense team ready to strategize a defense on your behalf. The criminal defense attorneys at May, Rammell & Wells have more than 70 years of collective experience, and they can help you begin strategizing a defense for your embezzlement theft case.

Call us today at (208) 623-8021 to schedule a consultation, or you can use our online contact form to request more information.

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