The Crime of Embezzlement in North Carolina

Embezzlement is a type of theft crime that involves stealing things of value as a trusted individual. Prosecutors must prove that the defendant engaged in an act or serious of acts in which a person entrusted with assets withholds or steals something of value. Most embezzlement crimes involve employees stealing money they had been entrusted with managing or had access to from their employers.

The Difference Between Larceny and Embezzlement

Larceny and embezzlement are both crimes that involve stealing from another person or company, but they are two separate crimes. Unlike felony or misdemeanor larceny charges, embezzlement charges may involve an element of premeditation or deliberation. Larceny consists in taking another person’s property without consent to permanently deprive that person of ownership. On the other hand, embezzlement involves taking property or things of value that the alleged victim entrusted to the defendant. Embezzlement crimes are not limited to personal property items.

When it comes to embezzlement charges, many individuals involve people taking multiple steps to hide their progressive theft of another person or company’s assets. Generally, embezzlement does not involve a single action of theft but occurs over a long period of time. In many cases, the crime involves methodically converting assets without the victim’s consent. Embezzlement sometimes takes years for the victim to discover. Accountants or tax professionals may discover missing money that leads to an investigation regarding embezzlement.

Differnet Types of Embezzlement Charges

Several types of embezzlement charges are set forth in Chapter 14 of the North Carolina Criminal Code. The different types of charges depend on the position of trust or authority of the defendant at the time of the crime. The specific types of embezzlement charges include the following:

  • Embezzlement by officers of railroad companies – N.C.G.S. 14-94
  • Embezzlement by treasurers of churches, religious organizations & charitable organizations – N.C.G.S. 14-93
  • Embezzlement of funds by public officers and trustees – N.C.G.S. 14-92
  • Embezzlement of state property by public officers and employees – N.C.G.S. 14-91
  • Embezzlement of property received by virtue of office or employment – N.C.G.S. 14-90
Penalties for Embezzlement in North Carolina

The severity of the penalties for embezzlement depends on the amount of money the defendant allegedly stole. Some cases involve significant sums of money that result in serious felony charges that can carry substantial prison terms, depending on the circumstances and nature of the allegations. Specifically, embezzlement of assets of $100,000 or more is considered a Class C felony under North Carolina law. A Class C felony carries harsher penalties than robbery with a deadly weapon, considered a Class D felony.

Even if you have no prior criminal record, if you are convicted of embezzlement, you will be forced to serve an active prison term. The crime is within the “A” block within the punishment grid for felony charges, meaning that an Active Prison Term is mandatory if you are convicted. As a result, the judge overseeing your case must sentence you to prison because the crime is a Class C felony. In many cases, there is also a required post-release supervision period, similar to parole.

Even if you have no points for having a prior criminal record, you could still face 58 to 82 months in prison if convicted. For a class C felony, the maximum penalty is 231 months, or 19.25 years, in prison for a Prior Record Level VI offender if you are in the aggravated sentencing range. Embezzlement of assets valued at less than $100,000 in value, the crime will be considered a Class H felony that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 39 months.

Discuss Your Case With a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina

In addition to fines and imprisonment, being convicted of embezzlement can seriously negatively affect your ability to find employment or change employment in the future. Many potential employers will not hire employees convicted of embezzlement, and an embezzlement conviction will result in a permanent criminal record.

Prosecutors in North Carolina take embezzlement charges seriously and will usually prosecute them to the fullest extent possible. Working with a skilled attorney is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your legal rights. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, have a proven track record of aggressively defending clients in a wide range of cases, including embezzlement cases. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more.