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Aggravating Factors that Could Affect Your Embezzlement Charges

White collar crimes have a reputation for being less severe than other kinds of criminal offenses. While it is true that someone accused of a white collar crime may not face the same severe penalties as someone who was convicted of a violent or repeat drug offense, they can still have devastating consequences for defendants. White collar crimes, for instance, contrary to popular belief, do often come with jail time, as well as crippling fines, and the loss of a person’s business license. When added to the consequences that a criminal conviction can have on someone’s personal life, these penalties often end up being just as severe as non-white collar crimes. 

With so much at stake, it is critical for those who have been accused of committing this kind of offense, to speak with an experienced Houston white collar crimes lawyer who is well-versed in fraud-based charges and can help them mount a strong defense. 

What is Embezzlement?

In Texas, defendants can be charged with embezzlement if there is evidence that they wrongfully took money that someone else had entrusted to their management. These types of charges often arise in employment contexts, where an employee who has access to company funds is accused of misappropriating some of those funds for his or her own personal use. Basically, embezzlement is a form of theft that involves an element of broken trust, often between an employer and an employee. 

Typical Penalties for an Embezzlement Conviction

Under Texas law, the penalties faced by someone who is convicted of embezzlement will depend largely on the amount of money that was taken. If, for instance, the property that was allegedly stolen was worth less than $50, then a person will usually be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, while the misappropriation of assets worth between $50 and $500 will typically result in Class B misdemeanor charges. When the value of the property was between $500 and $1,500, however, the charge will be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail. Once the value of the property exceeds $1,5000, a person can expect to be charged with a felony. 

Aggravating Factors

When it comes to embezzlement, courts are allowed to take certain facts about a case into consideration during sentencing. Judges can, for instance, enhance an offense (and its penalties) to the next highest category of offense if the defendant was:

  • A public servant and the property appropriated came into that person’s custody via his or her position;
  • In a contractual relationship with the government at the time of the offense; or
  • A Medicare provider in a contractual relationship with the federal government.

These enhancements could also apply if the owner of the property was an elderly individual or a non-profit organization. Finally, if a defendant caused a fire exit alarm to sound, or deactivated a fire alarm or retail theft detector during the commission of the offense, he or she will almost always face enhanced penalties. 

Call Today for Help with Your Embezzlement Charges

If you have been accused of embezzlement, you may need the help of an attorney to fight those allegations, especially if you are facing enhanced penalties. Please call The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 280-0100 today to learn more about building a strong defense.