What is Embezzlement?

embezzlementEmbezzlement is a crime we often hear about in the news in relation to higher-up business people and politicians, but not many people are aware of what it actually means. Because it is more common amongst people outside of the everyday average Joe, we tend to detach ourselves from it. However, this does not mean that you should not familiarize yourself with it, for there is no telling where your life will take you.

By definition, embezzlement is the “fraudulent conversion of another’s property by a person who is in a position of trust, such as an agent or employee.” Often compared to the act of swindling, embezzlement differs from swindling because swindling involves wrongfully obtaining property by a false pretense (a lie or a trick, for example) at the time the property is transferred. To break it down a little more, embezzlement is a type of property theft. The person who commits embezzlement is somebody who is entrusted to manage or monitor someone else’s money or property. Referred to as a defendant, this person has legal access to another person’s money or property but does not have legal ownership of it. Embezzlement is unique in that the defendant has both committed theft and has violated a special position of trust. Here in Illinois, embezzlement is generally punished based on the value or type of property that has been stolen. Punishments are as follows:

  • $500 or less: up to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, or both;
  • Over $500 but under $10,00: up to $25,000 in fines, two to five years in jail, or both;
  • Over $10,000 but under $100,000: up to $25,00 in fines, three to seven years in jail, or both;
  • Over $100,000 but under $500,000: up to $25,000 in fines, six to 30 years in jail, or both;
  • Over $500,000 but under $1,000,000: up to $25,000 in fines, four to 15 years in jail (without possibility of parole and probation), or both;
  • Over $1,000,000: up to $25,000 in fines, six to 30 years in jail, or both.

If you or somebody you know has been charged with embezzlement, you do not have to face it alone. Contact an experienced Illinois criminal attorney to assist you.