Embezzlement is a white-collar criminal offense that occurs when a person abuses a position of trust to illegally convert (steal) property or assets. Most often, embezzlement charges are filed against employees. Though, that is not a legal requirement. Any person who takes advantage of a position of trust to deprive another of money or property can be arrested for embezzlement.
Embezzlement is a crime under both state and federal law. You may be wondering: When is embezzlement charged as a federal crime? Typically, this happens because of theft of federal funds or theft from a federally-regulated financial institution. In this article, our federal criminal defense lawyer in Chicago explains when an embezzlement charge becomes a federal offense.
An Overview of Embezzlement as a Federal Offense
There are multiple federal embezzlement statutes on the books. A defendant could be arrested and charged with a federal crime for embezzlement in several different circumstances. Here are some of the specific circumstances in which embezzlement can be charged as a federal crime:
Embezzlement of Public Funds (Federal Agency)
Federal prosecutors bring embezzlement charges when the alleged victim is the federal government itself or a federal agency. Under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 31, an individual who uses a position of trust to convert funds belonging to a federal agency or federal department may be charged with felony embezzlement. If you or your loved one was charged with embezzling funds from a federal agency or the federal government in general, an experienced Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can help.
Embezzlement from Bank/Financial Institution
There is a specialized federal statute in place for embezzlement against a bank or other federally-regulated financial institutions. Under 18 U.S. Code § 657, all banks/financial institutions that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are covered by the statute. Contact an experienced Chicago federal financial crimes defense attorney for more information about this type of embezzlement charge.
Embezzlement as Part of Multi-State Criminal Enterprise
Finally, an individual could potentially face a felony criminal charge for embezzlement if he or she is alleged to have committed the offense in connection with a multi-state criminal enterprise. When state lines are crossed as part of a felony offense, federal prosecutors can get jurisdiction over the case. If you or your family member was arrested for embezzlement as part of a multi-jurisdiction criminal enterprise, contact an experienced Chicago, IL federal criminal defense attorney.
What the Federal Government Needs to Prove to Convict for Embezzlement
An arrest is not the same as a criminal conviction. When bringing federal embezzlement charges against a defendant, federal prosecutors have the legal obligation to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If they are not able to do so, then the charges should be dismissed. The required elements of a federal embezzlement charge generally include the following:
- There was a relationship of trust (employee, fiduciary, etc) beyond the defendant and the alleged rightful owner of the property.
- The defendant took control of the money, property, or assets—converting it without authorization for their personal use.
- The defendant intended to deprive the owner (federal government, federal agency, federally-related financial institution) of the use of the property.
As with other criminal charges, a federal embezzlement offense requires a comprehensive investigation. Anyone arrested and charged with embezzlement or any other white-collar crime has the right to raise a strong legal defense. An experienced Chicago federal white-collar defense attorney will help you gather, secure, and organize all the evidence needed to present your case.
Your Guide to Penalties for Federal Embezzlement Crimes
Similar to most other types of white-collar crimes, the penalties for a federal embezzlement conviction will largely depend on the scope of the violation. However, it is important to understand those federal prosecutors are notoriously aggressive in pursuing embezzlement cases. It does not take much for embezzlement to become a felony. Here is an overview of the potential penalties for federal embezzlement:
Less than $1,000
Embezzlement of less than $1,000 in money or property is a misdemeanor offense carrying a maximum sentence of one year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine.
Greater than $1,000
Embezzlement above $1,000 in money or property is a felony offense carrying maximum criminal penalties of a $250,000 fine and 10 years in federal prison.
Embezzlement is a State Crime (Illinois Law)
It is important to emphasize that not all embezzlement charges are filed under federal law. Quite the contrary, most embezzlement allegations are handled in Illinois state criminal courts. Under Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/16-1(b)), a defendant can be charged with embezzlement if they improperly take money, property, or assets from another party using a position of trust. You do not have to be an employee to be arrested and charged with embezzlement in Illinois.
Penalties for embezzlement in Illinois depend on the specific circumstances of the offense. When less than $500 is embezzled, Illinois classifies the offense as a misdemeanor carrying a maximum of one year in prison. When embezzlement in Illinois allegedly involves more than $1 million in losses, it can be charged as a Class X felony carrying a maximum punishment of 30 years in state prison. An experienced Chicago embezzlement defense lawyer will protect your rights.
Call Our Chicago, IL Federal Embezzlement Charge Defense Attorney Today
At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, our Illinois federal criminal defense lawyer handles the full range of financial crimes charges, including embezzlement cases. Tough times call for aggressive legal representation. If you or someone you know was arrested on an embezzlement charge or any related offense, we can help improve your chances of securing the most favorable outcome.
Call the experienced Chicago federal embezzlement defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman at (312) 726-9015 for a fully confidential case evaluation. From our Chicago law office, we handle federal and state embezzlement charges throughout Illinois, including in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, and Will County.