Many criminal offenses fall under the title of "white collar crimes."
Such crimes fall into this category because they rely on the following:
- Breach of trust
- Illegal circumvention
Some of the crimes that the U.S. Department of Justice puts under this heading include:
- Forgery and counterfeiting
- Using deception to secure signatures on documents
- Nonviolent larceny or theft
- Bribery and blackmail
- Fraud (mortgage, health care and insurance fraud, along with wire, bank and mortgage fraud)
A conviction for any one of these crimes could jeopardize your future. The damage done to your personal and professional reputation could be devastating. One of the most common crimes that people in business face is embezzlement, which this post will discuss.
What makes an individual's actions embezzlement versus, theft or larceny?
The elements of embezzlement vary from theft or larceny in that a fiduciary relationship often exists between you, the party who allegedly absconded with money or property, and the supposed victim. A fiduciary relationship requires the following:
- A relationship of trust
- Duty to be responsible for property
- Reliance of one party on another to do so
If a fiduciary duty is established, prosecutors must prove that you illegally intended to do the following:
- Acquire property through the relationship
- Take ownership of or transfer said property
For example, if you took deposits as a bank teller, used escrowed client money as an attorney or kept a portion of employment taxes as a payroll clerk, that would be considered embezzlement. If a court (either federal or Texas) convicts you of embezzlement, it could order you to pay fines, pay restitution for the money stolen, or impose jail or prison time. The value of the property stolen (such as the amount of cash) dictates the penalties.
You could face more than just criminal penalties, however. The alleged victim could file a civil claim against you, and the stigma of even an arrest could follow you for the rest of your life. You need to take any potential charges for embezzlement seriously. It would be in your best interest to contact a Texas attorney who routinely handles federal or state white-collar crime matters as quickly as possible.