When businesses permit employees to handle company money, they trust that it is in safe hands. Most people who touch these funds do so responsibly and make sure they’re moved to the right place or spent for business purposes. Yet, some employees will appropriate business assets for personal purposes. Stealing company money is embezzlement, which is a serious crime even at low levels.
You may hold a position of trust in your company and find yourself accused of embezzlement. In this case, these tips can help you understand if your actions crossed the line and what your consequences may be.
Where embezzlement begins
Embezzlement is often committed by employees in money management positions. Since their jobs involve handling cash or business funds, they may use these assets to their advantage. They may engage in a variety of behaviors to make their actions appear above board. Some embezzlers write paychecks to fake employees. Others alter company books to wipe out missing money. And some steal small amounts of assets over a long period. These actions qualify as theft to begin with. But they become embezzlement when the employee does not intend to return the misappropriated funds.
The consequences for embezzlement
If you’re facing embezzlement charges, the consequences depend upon the amount of money you misappropriated. By Missouri law, embezzling $500 or less qualifies as a misdemeanor. In this case, you may face a fine of up to $1,000, as well as up to one year in jail. If you embezzled between $501 and $25,000, you have committed a Class C felony. This charge is punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of up to seven years. Embezzling over $25,000 is a Class B felony. If you face this charge, you will likely receive a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $20,000.