bookkeeping in Arizona

Embezzlement: What You Need to Know

What is Embezzlement?

Arizona law classifies embezzlement as a theft crime committed by an individual who had legal access to, but did not own, another person’s assets. With embezzlement crimes, there are two key aspects at issue: first, stealing for personal gain, and second, violating a special position of trust.

There are many different kinds of embezzlement, and it can happen in a variety of settings. For example, funds can be embezzled through the course of employment, where an employee steals some asset of a company, an executive intentionally and falsely underreports assets, or an accountant alters financial reports. Embezzlement can also occur when an investor uses their client’s funds for personal gain. Further, embezzlement can, unfortunately, involve family members or caretakers stealing money or property from someone who is in their care.

What are the Penalties for Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is vigorously prosecuted and a conviction can lead to significant penalties, like imprisonment or fines. Arizona law provides a number of different penalties depending on the nature of the embezzlement and the value embezzled. Below is a general overview of different categories of embezzlement and penalties associated with each category:

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor – Theft is less than $1000, punishable by 6 up to months in jail, plus 3 three years probation, and a fine up to $2,500.
  • Class 2 Felony – Amount of money or property is taken is $25,000 or more, punishable by 4 to 12.5 years in prison, and minimum fine of $1,000 or both.
  • Class 3 Felony – Theft amounts to more than $4,000, but less than $25,000, punishable by 2.5 to 8.5 years in prison, and minimum fine of $1,000 or both.
  • Class 4 Felony – Theft is between $3,000 and $4,000, punishable by 18 months to 3.75 years in prison, and a minimum fine of $1,000 or both, and probation.
  • Class 5 Felony – Theft is more than $2,000, but less than $3,000, punishable by 9 months to 1.5 years in prison, and a minimum fine of $1,000, or both.
  • Class 6 Felony – Theft is between $1,000 and $2,500, or a person steals a firearm (or a dog for purposes of dog fighting), punishable by 6 months to 1 year in prison, and a minimum fine of $1,000 or both.

How Can You Defend Against Embezzlement?

The state needs to prove that a person accused of embezzlement knowingly took money or property that was not theirs. One of the best ways to defend against embezzlement charges is to show that the accused reasonably believed they were entitled to the assets, and that they did not intend to take money or property that was not theirs. Building this defense involves a thorough investigation and strategic use of evidence.

What Should You Do if You Are Charged With Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is an incredibly serious charge that can subject those accused of it to extremely significant consequence. If you or a loved one has been charged with embezzlement, the experienced attorneys at Arizona Lawyers are ready to help. Arizona Lawyers has extensive experience handling white collar crimes, including embezzlement charges. We believe that you are innocent until proven guilty, and will fight to protect your reputation and preserve your freedom. Contact the Arizona Lawyers today to learn about your options.