Embezzlement Defense — Houston, Galveston, League City, Texas
If you are under investigation for or have been arrested for embezzlement, you could be facing misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances of your case. A conviction could result in severe fines and a prison sentence, making it in your best interest to discuss your defense options with an experienced white-collar crimes defense attorney.
At Tad Nelson & Associates in League City, Texas, we have extensive experience representing individuals throughout the Houston and Galveston metro areas. Attorney Tad Nelson, a former assistant district attorney and a board-certified* criminal trial attorney, has a distinguished record of winning complex cases at trial.
Defending Yourself from Embezzlement Charges
Embezzlement is a term used to describe the act of stealing money that someone else has entrusted you to manage or hold on his or her behalf. While cases involving embezzlement often arise in the employment context, such as when an employee uses company funds for his or her own use, this is not the only type of activity that qualifies as embezzlement under Texas law.
Whatever the nature of the allegations, being charged with embezzlement can have severe repercussions, including jail time, hefty fines, significant damage to a person’s reputation, and the creation of a permanent criminal record. With so much at stake, it is particularly important for those who have been accused of embezzlement, to reach out to an experienced Houston embezzlement lawyer who can work towards getting your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Penalties for Embezzlement
In Texas, embezzlement, like other forms of theft, is punished based on the amount of money that was allegedly taken by the defendant. If, for instance, the property in question was worth less than $50, a defendant would most likely be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which comes with a $500 fine. For amounts between $50 and $500, however, a person will be charged with at least a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine. Those who are accused of unlawfully taking property worth between $500 and $1,500, on the other hand, will most likely be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This category is the most severe type of misdemeanor offense and can result in a jail sentence of up to a year and a $4,000 fine.
Although it can be charged as a misdemeanor, embezzlement, which often takes place in a business context, is typically categorized as a felony crime, as any offenses involving funds with a value of more than $1,500 can be charged as a felony.
Fortunately, it is possible for those who have been accused of embezzlement to avoid jail time and fines if they can present a strong defense. While the exact arguments they raise will depend on the specific facts of the case at hand, many of those who are accused of embezzlement are able to avoid an unfair conviction by proving that:
- They had a good faith belief that they were entitled to the money;
- Although the embezzlement occurred, they were not the party responsible;
- They were falsely accused;
- The state’s evidence doesn’t prove intent, which is a necessary element of the offense;
- The evidence being presented by the state was obtained during an unlawful search, or was otherwise seized unlawfully; or
- The prosecutor’s witnesses lack credibility.
To learn more about creating a legal strategy to defend yourself against allegations of embezzlement, please call our office today.
Pasadena Woman Faces 20 Years for Embezzling From Oil Company
Many white-collar crimes involve theft by deception or lying, as opposed to burglary or violence. Embezzlement, for example, occurs when the property is entrusted to someone who later misappropriates it. This includes an employee who is accused of taking money that rightfully belongs to his or her employer.
If you think that stealing from your workplace is not that big a deal, consider this recent white-collar crimes case from Pasadena, Texas. The defendant worked as an administrative assistant at Chevron Phillips Chemical, one of the world’s largest employers and a major employer in the Houston area. As part of her duties, the defendant controlled a number of company credit cards issued to managers in her department.
According to a formal indictment obtained this past May by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, over a period of approximately seven years the defendant fraudulently used these credit cards for her own personal benefit. More precisely, the indictment said she used credit cards to purchase pre-paid debit and gift cards. She also purchased (and then resold) copper wire. To conceal her scheme, the indictment said the defendant falsified receipts and forged “expense account statements and authorization signatures.”
Altogether, the U.S. Attorney said the defendant embezzled nearly $2 million from Chevron Phillips. Because she used credit cards to embezzle, her actions are classified as wire fraud, a federal crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1343, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. On October 17, the U.S. Attorney announced the defendant had agreed to plead guilty to the wire fraud charge, thereby waiving her right to trial. Her sentence will be determined by a federal judge in February 2018. The government may also seek forfeiture of the defendant’s assets in order to repay Chevron Phillips for the money it lost.
Have You Been Accused of Embezzlement?
As you can see, embezzlement can lead to serious federal criminal charges. Just about any theft involving the use of a credit card, debit card, or an Internet-based payment system falls within the definition of wire fraud. This means that even a single act of embezzlement involving a few hundred dollars could, in theory, land you in federal prison for 20 years.
At the state level, Texas prosecutes embezzlement the same as any other theft. The actual offense level depends on the value of the property allegedly stolen. For instance, if you embezzle $1,000 from your employer, you could face up to a year in jail if tried and convicted in state court. But again, you may also face separate federal charges if your embezzling act crosses state lines.
If you are accused of embezzlement by your employer or anyone else, it is crucial to assert your right to counsel. An experienced Texas white-collar crimes lawyer can provide you with aggressive representation. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today in Houston, Galveston, or League City to speak with an attorney right away.
Facing charges of embezzlement? Put a board-certified* criminal trial lawyer on your side today. Call (281) 280-0100 for a consultation. All major credit cards are accepted and we are available for evening, weekend and off-site visits.
Handling the Full Range of Embezzlement Cases in Texas
Embezzlement can take many forms, but whether you are facing felony embezzlement charges or misdemeanor charges, it is important to have our legal skills on your side. Both as an assistant prosecutor and in private practice, Tad Nelson has demonstrated his ability to thoroughly investigate cases and secure favorable results at trial.
We understand how damaging these charges can be to your personal and professional reputation and will do everything in our power to safeguard your rights as well as your good name.
To learn more about your legal options for fighting embezzlement charges, contact us today for a consultation with an attorney.
* The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies attorneys in 20 specific areas of law; certification in any of these areas requires substantial demonstrated experience and skill, positive peer evaluations, ongoing legal education commitments, and the passage of a rigorous test.
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