Embezzlement seems like a crime mostly committed by corporate criminals involving large amounts of money. However, the truth is that North Carolina residents of any income level can be charged with embezzlement. In fact, embezzlement is not even limited to money alone, as embezzlement schemes can also involve the theft or misuse of property.

Embezzlement is criminalized by both federal and state laws. North Carolina has its own laws defining embezzlement on the books, describing different forms of embezzlement and penalties if a person is convicted. Embezzlement can also be committed by people in the public sector as well as people who are privately employed.

What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement, according to FindLaw, is a form of theft, but with one key difference from typical larceny. Typical theft and larceny involves taking the property or money of another person with no authority to do so. However, people who engage in embezzlement actually have lawful possession of assets or property but either use them in unauthorized ways or have no intention of returning them to the rightful owner.

How is embezzlement committed?

Embezzlement takes many forms, but is committed most commonly by employees, business partners, or contract workers. People in these positions are tasked with taking care of money or property, whether for management or utilizing them for the interests of the parties who own them. However, these individuals instead misuse their authority to enrich themselves, either by stealing the assets under their care or using the assets for personal gain.

How does the state punish embezzlement?

North Carolina classifies embezzlement as a felony. The exact level of felony differs according to factors that the state will take into account. A person who embezzles property with a value less than $100,000 will be charged with a Class H felony. If the value is $100,000 or higher, the felony level will increase to Class C. A prior criminal record can also increase penalties for offenders. Penalty sentences can consist of the following:

  • Class H felonies are punished with 5 to 6 months of jail time
  • Class C felonies are punished with 58 to 73 months of jail time
  • Restitution to victims may also be required

Like any white collar crime, a conviction can deplete your financial resources and make it hard to purchase a home or invest in a business. The penalties resulting from a conviction of embezzlement makes it imperative to have good legal representation to fight the charges and give you the best possible defense.