You may work in your company’s finance department, dealing with thousands of dollars of transactions and cash management. When you face an unexpected costly medical bill, you may feel tempted to use some of the money from your company to pay it off quickly. You plan to pay that money back as soon as you can though. But then, someone else in your department discovers the money is missing. Will you face consequences as a result? Will you get arrested for embezzlement?
Understanding what embezzlement entails
Even if you intend to pay money back you took from your employer, you could face embezzlement charges. Embezzlement involves four factors in an employee-company situation:
· The employee has a responsibility through their job position to take care of money or property that belongs to their employer.
· The employee must acquire the asset or property because of their relationship with their employer, not in another manner.
· The employee must gain ownership of the money or property or must give it to someone else.
· The employee’s actions were intentional.
In Missouri, embezzlement falls under the theft code for stealing. The penalties someone will face if convicted of embezzlement depend on how much money was involved. For example:
· If an employee takes $500 or less in company funds, the employee will face a misdemeanor charge and could spend up to one year in jail and have to pay a $1,000 fine.
· If an employee takes more than $500 but less than $25,000, the employee will face a Class C felony charge and could spend up to seven years in jail and fines up to $5,000.
· If an employee takes more than $25,000, the employee will face a Class B felony charge and could spend up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $20,000.
If you are facing embezzlement charges, but you paid back the money you took before getting caught, you could face reduced penalties though.
When facing embezzlement charges
If you end up facing embezzlement charges, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can determine if the evidence is strong enough to prove you intended to steal the money involved in your case. An attorney also can mount an aggressive defense against the charges you face.
You don’t want to take chances if you are facing charges in a white-collar crime such as embezzlement. You want to take the right steps to best preserve your freedom and protect your reputation and future.