Not all serious crimes involve violence. When Pittsburgh residents think about criminal acts that may result in serious prison sentences, they may imagine murder, assault, and other crimes that involve brutality. However, white collar crimes can also be significantly punished by the criminal courts when the charges are successfully proven by prosecutors.

For example, embezzlement is a significant white collar crime that may be pursued in the state and federal courts of Pennsylvania. The facts of a person’s alleged embezzlement crimes will dictate where their trial is held. Despite the seriousness of embezzlement charges and the punishments that individuals can face if convicted few individuals understand what embezzlement involves. Readers may review the information contained in this post to begin learning more about this crime.

Fact #1: Embezzlement Charges Require a Fiduciary Duty 

Fiduciary relationships and the duties that grow from them are important to alleged crimes of embezzlement. In order for a person to be charged with embezzlement, they must hold a fiduciary relationship with their alleged victim. Fiduciaries are expected to act in the best interests of those who trust them and if they violate their fiduciary duties to them by depriving them of money or property a claim of embezzlement may be made.

Fact #2: Embezzlement Charges Must Be Based on Intentional Actions 

A person who accidentally takes home something that is the possession of another person likely has not committed a crime. That is because criminal acts like theft and embezzlement require individuals to intend to take items that are not theirs. If a person’s alleged act of embezzlement is based on an accident or unintended taking of another person’s property, it may not satisfy the elements of the charge.

Fact #3: Embezzlement Charges Can Apply to Relatively Small Takings 

Many readers are familiar with Bernie Madoff and the massive financial scheme that he allegedly created to take money from those who trusted him to carefully invest their savings. His case stands as one of the most famous examples of embezzlement occurring in the news. However, not all embezzlement cases take on this scale. Many charges of embezzlement arise in small business and even non-profit settings.

Fact #4: Embezzlement Convictions Can Result in Varying Punishments 

In Pennsylvania a state embezzlement conviction can result in serious penalties. A person may be subject to paying fines for their alleged actions and may be sentenced to a period of incarceration. Different factors can influence how a person is punished for engaging in alleged embezzlement.

Fact #5: Embezzlement Charges Can Be Met With Defenses

Like other crimes, embezzlement charges are built on facts that prosecutors use to prove the elements of the crimes they intend to pursue. However, defendants do not have to simply accept those facts and arguments when they are brought to trial. They may work with their trusted criminal defense attorneys to build defense strategies to mitigate and overcome the prosecutors’ arguments. Different defenses may apply to different cases and therefore individuals facing embezzlement charges should speak with their lawyers about what may work for them.

This post does not provide a comprehensive review of embezzlement nor should it be relied on as legal advice. Embezzlement and other white collar crime charges are serious and should be reviewed with knowledgeable legal practitioners.