Most people have heard of the crime of “embezzlement” and have some vague idea of what it entails; however, those same people often fail to realize just how easy it is to be unwittingly caught up in an embezzlement scheme. Because it is so easy to unknowingly become entangled in an embezzlement scheme it is in your best interest to have a clear understanding of what the crime of embezzlement actually is as well as the judicial, and non-judicial, penalties for a conviction.
Embezzlement is a type of theft. The primary difference between “basic” theft and embezzlement is that in order for you to be found guilty of embezzlement you must first have been entrusted with, or had authorized control, over the money or property that was ultimately kept, or converted, for personal gain. When most people think of embezzlement they think headline grabbing grand embezzlement schemes such as the Fortune 500 tycoon who embezzled stockholder funds. Embezzlement, however, can occur at a much smaller level as well. Consider some common examples:
· A cashier at the local grocery store is handed a $20 bill for a sale of $10 worth of groceries. The cashier gives the customer back her $10 in change; however, never rings up the sale and pockets the other $10.
· An acquaintance asks you to hold onto some furniture and household items while he is between places to live. You fail to give all the items back when he asks for them back.
· You see someone collecting outside a local store for a charity and you give that person $20. Ultimately, however, only $5 of the money is turned into the charity and the other $15 is pocketed by the worker.
· You have guardianship over an elderly relative suffering from dementia. As his guardian, you are the payee for his monthly Social Security checks. Each month you keep $100 of his benefits without anyone’s permission or knowledge.
Though these examples might not be referred to as embezzlement, nor charged as such, they are examples of small scale embezzlement. As you can imagine, the higher the value of the property involved, the harsher the potential penalties for an embezzlement conviction.
In Nebraska, all theft crimes, including embezzlement, are charged and punished according to the dollar amount involved as follows:
· Under $500 – Class II misdemeanor – up to 6 months in jail and/or $1000 fine.
· $500 — $1499 – Class I misdemeanor – up to one year in jail and/or $1000 fine.
· $1500 — $4999 – Class IV felony – up to two years in prison and/or $10,000 fine.
· $5000 or more – Class IIA felony – up to 20 years in prison
If you have been charged with embezzlement, or any other criminal offense, in Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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