Embezzlement, Va. Code 18.2-111, is a serious criminal charge in Virginia. Below are 5 things to know if you have been charged with Embezzlement in Virginia.
What is Embezzlement in Virginia
If any person wrongfully and fraudulently use, dispose of, conceal or embezzle any money, bill, note, check, order, draft, bond, receipt, bill of lading or any other personal property, tangible or intangible, which he shall have received for another or for his employer, principal or bailor, or by virtue of his office, trust, or employment, or which shall have been entrusted or delivered to him by another or by any court, corporation or company, he shall be guilty of embezzlement. Proof of embezzlement shall be sufficient to sustain the charge of larceny. Any person convicted hereunder shall be deemed guilty of larceny and may be indicted as for larceny and upon conviction shall be punished as provided in § 18.2-95 or § 18.2-96.
Embezzlement can be either a Felony or a Misdemeanor, depending on the amount alleged to have been taken. Prosecutors also have some latitude in how they charge embezzlement in cases involving multiple alleged transactions – whether as one offense for a larger amount, or several offenses consisting of smaller amounts.
What Makes Embezzlement Different
The element that distinguishes embezzlement from other forms of Larceny, is that embezzlement refers to money or other things of value that “he shall have received for another or for his employer, principal or bailor, or by virtue of his office, trust, or employment, or which shall have been entrusted or delivered to him by another or by any court, corporation or company.” Essentially, this means that Embezzlement covers theft where the defendant is accused of misappropriating property that he initially came into lawfully. For instance, if you receive an envelope of cash from your boss to deposit at the bank, but instead take or use some of that money for yourself.
Embezzlement Applies to More than Just Employees
While many people may imagine that Embezzlement applies to employees who take money from an employer, Embezzlement can apply to anyone to takes any property that they were entrusted with initially. Embezzlement applies to cash, funds, and other property.
Returning Embezzled Property Does Not “Erase” the Crime
While it may ultimately be helpful, returning property does not retroactively ‘void’ the initial offense of having taken it. Repaying funds may be something to discuss with your attorney as part of a broader mitigation strategy, however.
Embezzlement Can Be Proven By Circumstantial Evidence
Direct evidence is generally ideal for proving a criminal case. Direct evidence would include videos, photos, or perhaps a confession. However, circumstantial evidence is sufficient to convict an individual for Embezzlement and other criminal offenses in Virginia. Circumstantial evidence may include proving that the funds were in your direct control, as well as showing unusual expenditures and/or deposits into your bank accounts. Investigators may have issued a subpoena and reviewed your bank accounts before they even contact you. You may be contacted as part of an “informal” work investigation, but any statements you make could be used against you if you are prosecuted. If you are being questioned about Embezzlement, by anyone, contact an attorney.