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The federal crime of embezzlement

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Federal offenses are treated very seriously. This certainly includes the crime of embezzlement. Often considered a white-collar crime, it can come with serious penalties for Rhode Island residents who are convicted. If you have been charged with embezzlement or may be in the future, you better be educated on how this crime is prosecuted.

The elements of embezzlement

Embezzlement doesn’t happen every time money goes into the coffers of someone in a business. Instead, specific elements must exist for this federal crime to be proven in court. This includes:

  • there was a financial relationship or trust between the two parties
  • the money or property came into the defendant’s possession through their job
  • the funds or property were appropriated by the defendant fraudulently
  • the defendant intended to deprive the true owner of the funds or property

Federal embezzlement versus state charges

How the crime is charged can also be different. In most cases, the embezzlement will be charged under Rhode Island law. However, in certain cases, the federal government will pursue the case. This occurs when the crime involves the federal government. For example, this could include theft from a national park, the U.S. Post Office or a construction company hired as a third party contractor by the government.

Punishments for embezzlement in federal court

In regards to federal offenses, embezzlement is treated rather seriously by the government. If convicted, a person can expect to face penalties such prison time, fines, restitution and more. The severity of the punishment can also be increased based on different factors such as:

  • whether or not the charge is brought as a felony or misdemeanor
  • the amount of money or value stolen
  • the kind of property stolen
  • aggravating factors

These factors could determine whether a fine is $1,000 or $100,000 or a prison term is one year or 10 years.