Texas punishes white collar criminal offenses very harshly. The penalties range from punitive fines to jail time of several years. Embezzlement, a common form of white collar crime, can carry particularly harsh sentences.
Understanding embezzlement in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 31, embezzlement is the misappropriation of funds or property without the owner’s consent with the intention of depriving the owner of it. Generally, embezzlement involves and employee diverting assets from their employer without their employer’s knowledge. It can involve one person or a team working in collaboration.
The consequences of a conviction
In Texas, the punishment for embezzling funds depends on the value of the assets stolen, among other factors such as repeat convictions for financial crimes. For example:
- Up to $1,500 embezzled results in up to one year in jail
- $1,500 to $20,000 results in up to two years in jail
- $20,000 to $100,000 results in two to 10 years in jail
- $100,000 to $200,000 results in two to 20 years in jail
- $200,000 or more embezzled results in five to 99 years in jail
There are de facto consequences as well. A mere arrest for or charge of embezzlement can permanently damage the hard-won career of an innocent person. In the insular world of business and finance, which often rely on reputation and word-of-mouth to advance one’s career, it can derail an otherwise promising life.
Embezzlement is difficult to prove
Given the severity of the offense and the life-altering penalties it can have, it is easy to find oneself intimidated in the face of embezzlement charges. However, the state has a very high burden of proof to obtain a conviction. Prosecutors must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant stole money, property or other assets. Given the difficult nature of white collar crime investigations and the expense of prosecuting them, the District Attorney’s office is often to willing to work with the defendant’s counsel to dismiss or reduce certain charges or sentences.