Embezzlement is one form of white-collar crime. It is committed when a person misappropriates assets that are entrusted to him/her. This pre-meditated and methodical crime, more likely, gets discovered only after a large portion of the funds (entrusted to a person) gets needed at one time or if a complete and independent accounting of all real and liquid assets is suddenly required – this is after millions or billions of dollars have already been embezzled.
Like the crime larceny, embezzlement also involves the taking of someone else’s property. However, unlike larceny, which anyone can commit, embezzlement is committed by someone to whom property has been entrusted. The crime of embezzlement is deliberately and methodically performed. By repeatedly embezzling only a small fraction or proportion of the total resources or funds and falsifying records in order to minimize risk of the detection, an embezzler can continue committing this crime for years or even decades without being detected. Some past embezzlement schemes are deemed very successful as these went on for many years before these were discovered. This is due to the embezzler’s skill in concealing the nature of the transactions or in gaining the full trust and confidence of investors or clients.
Laws on embezzlement may be federal or state-based. On the federal level, embezzlement laws target those who steal from the government. On the state level, laws go after public officials working for state and local governments, as well as people who do not work for the government.
An embezzlement case, under federal statute 18 USC 3282, may only be pursued within five years of the commission of the offense. Those convicted will be punished based on a point system. Base Offense Level, which is six, is the point assigned to those who have embezzled $5000 or less; the highest offense level is 36, which can be assigned to those who cause losses more than $400 million.
As explained by the law firm Horst Law, a criminal defense attorney “can explain, if you have knowledge that you’re being investigated for a crime or have already been charged, it’s important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Criminal suspects are afforded important constitutional protections such as a prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizure. These protections attach during phases of the investigation such as a search of your home or computer, arrest, questioning, etc. Your attorney can review the evidence against you and how it was obtained to determine whether any improprieties may form the basis for a defense.”