Across Pennsylvania in 2017, there were approximately 799,396 reports crimes handled by agencies of law enforcement. The state's uniform crime reporting system for the year classified roughly 165,390 of these criminal actions as theft, which includes those of embezzlement. This number excludes offenses of robbery, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.
Bucks County Criminal Cases
The Bucks County District Courts have traditionally prosecuted nearly 10,000 criminal cases each year. Recently, the number of criminal convictions has been declining. In 2017, there were 8,739 cases and in 2018 the number fell to 7,461, which is largely attributed to the rise in the number of offenders entering programs that allow for alternative dispositioning. The diversionary programs used include the Community Accountability Program (CAP) and Drug Court Diversionary Program (DCDP).
Offenses such as embezzlement are grouped under the broader classification of theft. These are offenses where someone knowingly takes or withholds someone else's property without their permission. Theft allegations require proof that the defendant intended to deprive the owner of their property. The state defines depriving as an act that permanently withholds or otherwise disposes of the property so it is “unlikely that the owner will recover it.”
Acts of embezzlement are unique because the perpetrator is someone entrusted with some access or control by a business, government entity, or other organization. This is described as being a fiduciary relationship. The term fiduciary applies to situations where someone places trust in another person.
Misapplication of Entrusted Property (§4113)
The offense is committed by disposing of property in an unlawful manner that is detrimental to the owner. The perpetrator is in a fiduciary role; however, their intention is to benefit themselves. This may involve someone responsible for a governmental property or that belongs to a financial institution.
Theft by Failure to Make a Required Disposition of Funds Received (§3927)
This is a related offense that involves an act of intentional property theft where the offender “deals with the property obtained as his own.” The term “deals” implies the offender used the property that was intended “for a specific use.” For example, perhaps a payment to the organization intended to be deposited into the company account as accounts receivable is used for personal purposes.
Examples of Acts of Embezzlement
- An authorized individual creates “false expenses” to divert funds for their own benefit
- Perhaps the organization's funds are used for a payment to a “contractor” that has partnered with the offender in the scheme
- A review of accounting records showing that checks were fraudulently stamped with the signature of the owner to appear legitimate
- An employee with access to the payroll system increases their hourly rate of pay or monthly salary amount
Grading of Theft Offenses in Pennsylvania
The grade or level of a theft offense may be determined by the value of the loss:
- Felony of the first degree: The amount was more than $500,000. The maximum sentence is 20 years and a $25,000 fine.
- Felony of the second degree: The amount was between $100,000 and $500,000. The maximum sentence is 10 years and a $25,000 fine
- Felony of the third degree: Amount was between $2,000 and $100,000. The maximum sentence is seven years and a $15,000 fine
- Misdemeanor of the first degree: The amount was between $200 and $2000. The maximum sentence is five years and a $10,000 fine.
- Misdemeanor of the second degree: The amount was between $50 and $200. The maximum sentence is one year and a $2,500 fine.
Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skills and experience needed to effectively defend those facing allegations of theft. He will closely analyze the evidence and circumstances involved to implement a formidable defense strategy. Contact the office today for a case evaluation at (888) 535-3686.