Embezzlement has been in the local news quite a bit, since the news that the former Register of Deeds has been indicted on charges of embezzling $1.3 million dollars from the public trust. Allegedly, this was accomplished through failing to account for large numbers of cash transactions. The term "embezzlement" invokes imagery of white collar criminals and high dollar criminal conspiracies. However, it is a rather common crime in state courts, often relatively small sums.
North Carolina General Statute 14-74 establishes, through rather arcane language, the crime of embezzlement by an employee. Skipping the arcane language, to support a conviction for that particular type of embezzlement, a prosecutor must prove the defendant:
- Was an employee and
- Willfully took a thing of value or
- Embezzles or converts to his or her own use a thing of value
- Which thing was entrusted to the employee
- With the intent to steal it and defraud the employer
Under NC law, this type of embezzlement is a Class H felony if the value of the wrongfully taken money or item is less than $100,000.00. A Class H felony is relatively low on the spectrum of of felonies, and an individual with no criminal history or limited history can expect that they will likely receive a probationary sentence. If the value exceeds $100,000.00 the crime would likely be charged as a serious, Class C, felony.
If the item is not one that was entrusted to an employee as part of their job, the criminal charge would more appropriately be a larceny rather than embezzlement. This important distinction, if identified in a case by a competent criminal defense lawyer, can make a major difference in the legal consequences of the deed.
There are other types of embezzlement under NC law, involving government employees and employees in other institutional settings. Generally, they are considered more serious, Class F, felonies, though at the $100,000.00 threshhold they are treated the same as other embezzlement charges.
Wake County criminal defense lawyer Sean Cecil has experience defending embezzlement charges, and provides free telephonic consultations on all criminal charges.