Stealing business funds as serious as stealing physical property
Theft offenses in Florida extend beyond shoplifting, burglary and the taking of physical possessions that belong to someone else. White-collar crimes are subtler theft crimes, but they are theft crimes, nonetheless.
One type of white-collar crime is embezzlement, and the consequences for committing this crime, like other theft crimes in the Sunshine State, depend on how much was stolen.
What is embezzlement?
Embezzlement is the taking of something that does not belong to you that you have been entrusted with, generally money, for your own personal gain or the personal gain of someone else.
Oftentimes embezzlement involves someone entrusted with business funds. Intent is not a factor necessary to prove embezzlement, but it must be shown that you did not have the permission of the property owner to take and spend or use the funds.
Embezzlement is a theft crime. Like other theft crimes, it involves the knowing taking or use, or attempting to take or use, someone else’s property with the intent to temporarily or permanently devest the rightful owner of the property.
This puts embezzlement on the same level as theft of physical property.
What are the consequences of embezzlement?
The consequences of embezzlement, like other theft crimes, depend on the value of funds stolen.
Embezzlement is almost always a grand theft crime. It is a third-degree felony grand theft if $300 to $20,000 is stolen. It is a second-degree felony grand theft if $20,000 to $100,000 is stolen. It is a first-degree felony grand theft if more than $100,000 is stolen.
Any amount stolen that is less than $300 can be treated as a misdemeanor theft crime.
Don’t be fooled
Do not be fooled into thinking that embezzlement is a lesser crime than burglary, carjacking or other serious theft crimes because it does not involve the theft of physical property. The stealing of funds can devest a person of thousands or even millions of dollars.
The penalties for white-collar crimes like embezzlement are just as serious as any other theft crime. Fortunately, if you have a good faith belief you own the funds or if you have the permission of the property owner to take the funds, you might use these facts to defend yourself against theft charges.