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On Behalf of | May 15, 2023

Understanding embezzlement in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | May 15, 2023 | Criminal Law

Embezzlement is a serious crime in Pennsylvania and the courts consider it a form of theft.

It occurs when a person entrusted with someone else’s property or funds intentionally misappropriates them for their own personal use. This article will explore the definition of embezzlement and its consequences in Pennsylvania.

Definition of embezzlement

A person intentionally misusing someone else’s property or funds for their own benefit is committing embezzlement. This can happen in a variety of situations, including when an employee steals from their employer, a trustee takes money from a trust or an accountant misuses client funds. In order for the courts to consider embezzlement a crime in Pennsylvania, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had a fiduciary duty to the victim, meaning someone entrusted them their property or funds and that the defendant intentionally took or used the property or funds for their own benefit.

Consequences of embezzlement

The consequences of embezzlement in Pennsylvania can be severe. The severity of the punishment depends on the value of the property or funds stolen, as well as the defendant’s criminal history. If the value of the stolen property or funds is less than $2,000, the defendant may face misdemeanor charges, which carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. However, if the value of the stolen property or funds is $2,000 or more, the defendant may face felony charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Additionally, if the defendant has a prior criminal record, their punishment may be more severe. The courts consider embezzlement a “crime of moral turpitude,” which means that it involves dishonesty or fraud. As a result, a conviction for embezzlement can have serious consequences beyond the legal penalties, including damage to the defendant’s reputation and difficulty finding employment.

It is important to understand the elements of embezzlement and the specific circumstances in which it may occur. Individuals should take steps to protect themselves from potential embezzlement by implementing proper accounting and financial controls. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been a victim of embezzlement, it is important to report it to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible.

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