Have you been accused of stealing from your employer or someone who trusted you with their money or possessions? If so, this is known as embezzlement, and depending on the circumstances, you may face felony charges. In light of such serious allegations, the best thing you can do for yourself is to hire a skilled Seattle criminal defense attorney.
The embezzlement defense attorneys at Emerald City Law Group are here to help. We understand how distressing these types of allegations are. Being accused of embezzlement instantly damages your reputation and harms your career. It takes vigorously protecting your rights and defending yourself to rebuild your reputation and move forward. Our attorneys will aggressively respond to any embezzlement allegations and put forth the strongest defense possible. Depending on the facts of the case, we may also fight for the charges to be dropped, dismissed, or reduced.
What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement occurs when someone steals or takes control of property or money through a position of trust and the access it provided. The most common example is an employee stealing a business’s funds. The employee had access to the funds due to their work duties. Embezzlement often makes the news when employees make off with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars from their employer. Although, embezzlement occurs on smaller scales as well. For example, using a company credit card to pay for personal expenses could lead to embezzlement allegations and criminal charges.
Also, embezzlement is not just performed by employees. Anyone who has lawful possession or access to another person, business, or government entities’ funds or property, and misappropriates some or all of those funds or property, is guilty of embezzlement.
To learn more about when you can be charged with embezzlement in Washington, talk with our embezzlement defense lawyers at Emerald City Law Group. We will help you understand Washington’s criminal code and how it can be used against you. We will also carefully review your case and advise you of potential defenses.
Washington’s Embezzlement Laws
Washington does not have one specific criminal embezzlement statute. Instead, embezzlement in Washington is charged as a theft crime:
- First-degree theft (RCW 9A.56.030): Theft of more than $5,000, a firearm or vehicle of any value, a search and rescue dog on duty, or commercial or private metal property causing property damage of more than $5,000 is a Class B felony.
- Second-degree theft (RCW 9A.56.040): Theft valued between $750 and $5,000, of a public record kept by a public office, of commercial or private metal property, causing property damage worth between $750 and $5,000, or of any access device is a Class C felony.
- Third-degree theft (RCW 9A.56.050): Theft of property worth up to $750 or of 10 or more merchandise pallets, 10 or more beverage crates, or a combination of the two is a gross misdemeanor.
If you are accused of unlawfully appropriating another person or business’s money or property, call our embezzlement defense attorneys at Emerald City Law Group immediately. If you are accused of stealing a small amount of money or property, you may face a gross misdemeanor. The penalty for this level of a crime are not overly harsh. However, if you are accused of embezzling a large amount of money or property, you may face a high-level felony, which can result in years in prison. You need to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer by your side to fight for an acquittal, and when necessary, strive to mitigate the consequences of a conviction.
Potential Penalties for Embezzlement
The possible term of imprisonment you face for embezzlement depends on numerous factors, including the class of the offense, the seriousness level of the crime, and your offender score, which is based on your current situation and criminal history.
Maximum Penalty: For every class of crime, there is a maximum penalty you can face under Washington law:
- Class B felony: A maximum of 10 years in prison and fines up to $50,000.
- Class C felony: Up to five years in prison and fines reaching $10,000.
- Gross Misdemeanor: Up to 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Minimum Penalty: Depending on your circumstances, you may not realistically face the maximum penalty. Washington’s Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account the seriousness level of the offense and your offender score, may allow for a shorter term of imprisonment than the maximum penalty.
First-degree theft, excluding theft of a firearm or vehicle, has a seriousness level of II. Depending on your offender score, which is between 0 and 9+, you may be sentenced to jail or prison for 0-90 days, 2-6 months, 3-9 months, 4-12 months, 12-14 months, 14-18 months, 17-22 months, 22-29 months, 33-43 months, or 43-57 months.
Second-degree theft, excluding theft of a firearm or vehicle, has a seriousness level of I, the lowest level. Depending on your offender score, you may be sentenced to jail or prison for 0-60 days, 0-90 days, 2-5 months, 3-8 months, 4-12 months, 12-14 months, 14-18 months, 17-22 months, or 22-29 months.
Additional Penalties: Your punishment may involve more than incarceration and fines. You could be required to pay restitution to the victims. You may have to perform community service and adhere to numerous conditions of probation. When you work with an embezzlement defense attorney with Emerald City Law Group, we will take all of these factors into consideration when attempting to mitigate the consequences of a potential conviction.
Sentencing for theft offenses in Washington can be complicated. You should speak with an embezzlement defense lawyer to discuss the seriousness level and your potential offender score. This information will help you predict the potential punishment you may face. Your defense attorney can also review potential aggravating circumstances or sentence enhancements that could lead to longer terms of incarceration.
Embezzlement Can Be Charged as a Federal Crime
Depending on the facts of your case, embezzlement can also be charged as a federal crime under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 31, and you can face much harsher punishments. It is common to be charged with federal embezzlement if you are accused of stealing from a federal agency, such as misappropriating funds through a government contract for services or goods. Or, you may be a government employee accused of stealing funds. Federal embezzlement laws also cover thefts by bank employees.
Depending on the type of embezzlement and the value you allegedly obtained, you may face as little as one year in jail or up to 10 years in prison. You can face fines up to $100,000 or fines up to $250,000.
If you are ever accused of committing embezzlement and are being investigated by federal officials, call our embezzlement defense attorneys immediately.
Let Us Defend You Against Embezzlement Charges
Facing allegations of embezzlement is frightening. You, rightfully, may be worried about how this will impact your career and family. Will you go to jail? Will you be able to work again? At Emerald City Law Group, we are here to fight for you. We will protect your rights during an investigation and any subsequent criminal case. We will thoroughly investigate the allegations against you, obtain and analyze evidence, and build you a strong defense. We will provide honest and objective insights into your case and the potential outcome. While we will strive to have the charges dismissed or to exonerate you in court, we will also prepare to mitigate any potential penalties.
A Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
No matter the charges or accusations – You deserve an aggressive defense.
When people are ill-prepared for the criminal justice system or take their situation too lightly, the consequences are often dire and in most cases, permanent. By working with a King County criminal defense lawyer from Emerald City Law Group, you can rely on a personalized and proactive approach to your case, so every issue is addressed and you obtain the best possible outcome.
If you have been charged with a crime in or around King County, Washington, Emerald City Law Group should be your next call. 206-973-0407