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Proven Criminal Defense In Upstate New York

Understanding embezzlement laws in New York

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2023 | Blog, White Collar Crime |

The crime of embezzlement is a form of theft covered under New York Penal Law Article 155. It involves illegally taking money or property entrusted to another individual for their gain. Here are some distinct characteristics that must be present for a crime to be embezzlement.

Elements of embezzlement

In New York, for the court to find a person guilty of embezzlement, the prosecutor must prove five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant was in a position of trust and confidence concerning the property or services.
  2. The defendant acquired possession or control over the property or services.
  3. The defendant wrongfully and intentionally converted or appropriated the property or services.
  4. There was no consent by the owner of the property or services when the defendant converted or appropriated the property or services.
  5. The defendant’s conduct caused actual harm to another person by unlawfully depriving them of their property or services.

Types of embezzlement

The amount of money taken or the type of property stolen dictates the severity of the embezzlement charge. If a person steals over $1,000, the crime is a fourth-degree felony. If the money or value of the property exceeds $3,000 but not greater than $50,000, the crime is a third-degree felony. For amounts over $50,000, the crime is a second-degree felony.

Penalties for embezzlement

A fourth-degree felony can result in up to 4 years in prison, while a second-degree felony can result in up to 7 years in prison. Second-degree felony embezzlement can be crippling to most businesses; therefore, judges will typically sentence from one to 15 years in prison (or 24 years for amounts exceeding $1,000,000) but include a restitution fine in the amount reflected by property stolen.

Defenses to embezzlement in New York

White-collar crimes in New York, including embezzlement, do have options for defense. If the defendant can show they had a valid claim or ownership of the property or money, an acquittal is possible. Also, if the defendant can demonstrate they didn’t intend to take the property, for example, if they made a mistake or believed they had the right to use the property, this could lead to a dismissal.

In white-collar crime cases such as embezzlement, being proactive is the key to achieving the best possible outcome for a case. When people understand their rights and the seriousness of embezzlement charges, they can develop a solid legal strategy for their defense.