Embezzlement is when someone fraudulently takes, uses, or conceals property that was given to them by someone else for safekeeping. Basically if you're asked to be responsible over some piece of property and then you take that property, you can probably be charged with embezzlement. A common example is if you are a bank teller and you take money from the bank drawer and keep it, that would be embezzlement.
What's the difference between embezzlement and larceny?
The differences between embezzlement and larceny are vague and confusing. Larceny is taking something that you don't have any right to possess in the first place. If you take someone's wallet from their back pocket without their knowledge that's larceny because you never had the right to even possess the wallet. But if someone asks you to hold onto their wallet for them and you don't return the wallet, that could be embezzlement. Actually, the difference between larceny and embezzlement is sometimes so confusing that the prosecutor will charge both offenses just to cover their bases.
What's the punishment for embezzlement?
The punishment for embezzlement if the same as for larceny. If the value of the thing that is embezzled is $200 or more, the maximum punishment is 20 years in prison. If the value of the thing embezzled is less than $200, then the maximum punishment is only 12 months in jail. Many people who are charged with embezzlement do not have any prior criminal record. If you have no prior criminal record, and are accused of embezzling a relatively small amount of money, it's unlikely you will receive significant jail time. However, the more money you are accused of embezzling, the higher the chance you'll be sentenced to prison.
Will a conviction for embezzlement effect my job?
Maybe. Many employers are wary about hiring someone who's been convicted of embezzlement because that means the person took something that they were trusted with. Employers have to trust their employees with a lot of property and money. Sometimes it's better to have a conviction for larceny because there is not the same stigma attached.
If my employer or the police ask to speak with me about embezzlement, should I talk with them?
No. You should not speak with them until you've consulted with an attorney. Even if you are completely innocent, speaking with the police or with your employer can be dangerous. Everything you say will be interpreted in the worst possible light and can be used against you. You should consult with an attorney before making any statement to the police.