Employee theft or embezzlement charges in Roanoke, VA can damage your reputation, career prospects, and could land you behind bars. Like other theft and white-collar crimes, embezzlement in Virginia can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value involved. So regardless of what happened, you need to know what you’re dealing with. That’s what it is always best to review your options with an experienced Roanoke embezzlement lawyer.
Let a knowledgeable and committed Roanoke criminal defense lawyer assess your situation, explain your options, and fight to resolve your embezzlement charges in the best possible way.
Roanoke Embezzlement Charges: An Overview
Embezzlement usually conjures images of unscrupulous executives funneling money into off-shore accounts, but according to Virginia law, embezzlement is much broader and extends to all sorts of employee theft scenarios.
A lot of times, money managers, bank employees, and bookkeepers find themselves in legal trouble because embezzlement in Virginia includes the use, disposal, or concealment of any property that is legally the property of another individual or entity.
This concealment or inappropriate handling does not even need to benefit the individual in question. But rest assured, if you are charged with embezzlement, you face life-altering penalties including fines and prison.
Common Examples of Embezzlement
- An accountant using funds from the account they handle for personal gain.
- A bank teller taking money out of their till.
- A construction worker stealing materials from a job site.
Virginia Embezzlement Law
Under Virginia law, §18.2-111 embezzlement requires someone to act wrongfully and fraudulently by converting, using, concealing, or disposing of property entrusted to them with the intention of depriving it from the property’s true owner.
If someone is charged with embezzling less than $200, they face a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is considered “petit” larceny under §18.2-96. This is punishable by up to a year in jail, and a $2,500 fine or both.
Since embezzlement is a larceny or theft-related crime regardless of its misdemeanor or felony classification, any subsequent convictions will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days and up to 12 months in jail.
Other Embezzlement Consequences
An embezzlement conviction on your record can also result in some enduring harm other than the obvious criminal penalties. For instance, if your profession involved managing money or property, finding another job in your field with an embezzlement conviction will be highly unlikely.
In fact, it is rare for employers in almost any industry to hire someone with a criminal record. In addition to a tarnished professional reputation, continuing your education or obtaining acceptable housing may also be difficult since most universities and landlords conduct routine background checks.
Defending Against Embezzlement Charges
There is some good news for those facing embezzlement charges. Embezzlement is a statutory crime in Virginia. This means the prosecutor must prove each element under the embezzlement statute to meet its burden. Otherwise, your charge must be dismissed.
To be convicted of embezzlement, the prosecutor must prove:
- Your action was wrongful and fraudulent.
- You used, disposed, or concealed money or property entrusted to you.
- Your intention was to permanently deprive the owner.
Simply misappropriating funds or making a mistake is not sufficient for a conviction.
Mistakes are Not Embezzlement
Instances of embezzlement often stem from poorly kept business records and when a discrepancy is exposed, there is a strong desire to assign blame. With a lot of money or property moving between accounts or locations, arguing that a simple logistical mistake or misappropriation created the situation is a strong defense.
By working with an effective and knowledgeable Roanoke embezzlement attorney with the resources to thoroughly investigate corporate accounts, you may be able to present evidence that the property was never actually removed, belonged to you all along, was in fact gifted to you, or used with the owner’s consent
A Roanoke Embezzlement Attorney Can Help
An embezzlement charge in Virginia can devastate every aspect of your life. At Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico, we realize that a conviction will jeopardize your family’s well-being if you are sent to prison and your professional career will probably never recover.
We believe the key to a successful outcome rests in gathering all the information and will strive to provide you with the strongest defense. This may include avoiding formal charges, having the case dismissed altogether, or proving your innocence in court.
Even if the prosecutor can establish each element in an embezzlement case, we will work to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, negotiate to pay restitution, or other favorable alternatives.