While embezzlement usually conjures images of unscrupulous executives funneling money from unsuspecting victims into off-shore accounts, according to Virginia law, this type of white collar crime is actually much broader and can extend to individuals that do not fit the typical mold. Many times, money managers, bank employees, and bookkeepers find themselves in very troubling legal positions because the state describes embezzlement as the use, disposal, or concealment of any property that is legally the property of another individual or entity. Furthermore, this concealment or inappropriate handling does not even need to benefit the individual in question, but if you are charged with embezzlement, you can face very harsh and life-altering penalties including fines and lengthy periods of incarceration.
Depending on the value of the property involved, embezzlement can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony in Virginia. Regardless of the specific circumstances or value of the property involved in your case, it is always best to review your options with a dedicated Roanoke embezzlement lawyer who can protect your rights and work towards a favorable resolution.
Call Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico at today for a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Roanoke criminal defense lawyer.
Embezzlement as a Misdemeanor or Felony
Both instances of embezzlement under Virginia code §18.2-111 require the accused to act wrongfully and fraudulently by converting, using, concealing, or disposing of property belonging to someone else, with the intention of permanently depriving the true owner of the property’s use; and the property was entrusted to the accused by the nature of employment, office, or position.
Examples of embezzlement can include:
- An accountant making their personal mortgage payment from the account they handle professionally
- A bank teller taking money out of their till periodically
- A construction worker stealing materials from a job site to make home repairs or to sell
If someone is charged with embezzling less that $200, they will face a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, which is considered “petit” larceny under §18.2-96, which is punishable by up to a year in jail, and a $2,500 fine or both. If the value is determined to be greater than $200, the offense will be heightened to a Class U “grand” larceny felony, according to §18.2-95 with a maximum sentence of 20 years and/or a $2,500 fine.
Additionally, since embezzlement is deemed a larceny or theft-related crime regardless of its misdemeanor or felony classification, any subsequent convictions for similar offenses will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days and up to 12 months in jail.
Other Consequences of Embezzlement
An embezzlement conviction can also result in some very severe and enduring ramifications other than the obvious criminal penalties. For instance, if your profession prior to conviction involved managing money or property, finding another job in your field with a misdemeanor or felony for embezzlement on your record will be highly unlikely. In fact, it is rare for employers in almost any industry to jump at the chance to hire someone with a criminal record. In addition to a tarnished professional and personal reputation, continuing your education or obtaining acceptable housing may also be difficult since most universities and landlords conduct routine background checks prior to acceptance or approval.
Defending Against an Embezzlement Charge
Instances of embezzlement may seem clear cut, but they can 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. Remember, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove you intended to deprive the true owner of their property. With assistance from 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 for your purposes with the owner’s consent
Call a Roanoke Embezzlement Attorney Right Away
An embezzlement charge in Virginia will almost assuredly 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 possible defense.
Protect what you’ve built and preserve your future by calling us at or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.