What to Know About Facing Embezzlement Charges in Texas

Businessman counting 100 dollar bills

If you or a loved one are facing embezzlement charges in Texas you should prepare yourself for the severe legal consequences that often follow. Considered a white-collar crime, embezzlement involves unlawfully appropriating funds or assets that were trusted to one’s care, often in a corporate setting. 

If you find yourself facing embezzlement charges, hiring a lawyer who understands the nature of complex white-collar crimes, and can execute defense strategies in state and federal courts of law, is essential to preserving your freedom. Laredo embezzlement lawyer, Javier Guzman, is a federal trial lawyer who knows how to take cases to court and win. He is here to provide an overview of what you need to know about facing embezzlement charges from investigation to life after embezzlement charges. 

What constitutes embezzlement in Texas?

Texas Penal Code 31.02 and 31.03 define embezzlement as the unlawful appropriation of property — either tangible or intangible — by a person in a position of trust. This property typically belongs to another person and was entrusted to the perpetrator for safekeeping or exchange of goods or services.

Embezzlement offenses in Texas are categorized as (and charged as) either: 

  • Theft, which involves taking another’s property without permission.
  • Misapplication of fiduciary property or money, which involves failing to use the entrusted funds for its intended purpose.
  • False statement by a fiduciary, which occurs when a person with trust responsibilities makes false statements in order to conceal embezzlement.
  • Breach of trust, which happens when a person breaches their trust agreement by using the assets they were supposed to protect for personal gain.

Common examples of embezzlement offenses in Texas include:

  • Theft of funds by an officer or employee from their employer
  • Misapplying bank funds 
  • Payroll fraud 
  • Credit card fraud 
  • Forging checks 
  • Altering documents 
  • Theft of property by a public servant 
  • Fraudulent use of a person’s identity 

Depending on the circumstances, embezzlement may be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony offense, and the punishment is based on the amount of money or assets taken as well as the nature of the crime.

The tricky thing about embezzlement charges in Texas is that they often aren’t the only charges you’ll face. It is common for someone to face charges for theft or misappropriation of funds at the state level, while also facing federal charges for embezzlement

Under 18 U.S. Code § 31, if a person commits embezzlement, but especially embezzlement of government property or through the use of a government-funded organization, they will face a ten-year prison sentence and a fine equal to the dollar amount of the assets embezzled. This is why it is so essential to hire a federal trial lawyer, like Javier Guzman, for your defense. 

Punishment for embezzlement in Texas

If you are found guilty of embezzlement in Texas, the penalties vary based on the value of the stolen funds.

Below you will find possible penalties for different values of offenses:

Value of OffensePotential ChargeJail Time
Up to $1,500Misdemeanor ChargeUp to 1 year in jail
$1,500 to $20,000State Jail FelonyUp to 2 years in state jail
$20,000 to $100,0003rd Degree Felony2 to 10 years in prison
$100,000 to $200,0002nd Degree Felony2 to 20 years in state prison
More than $200,0001st Degree Felony5 to 99 years in state prison

In addition to jail or prison time, embezzlement charges may result in hefty fines as well as forfeiture of any illegally obtained property. In some cases, restitution payments must also be made. Therefore, if you believe you may be under investigation or have already been charged, it is essential to consult with a qualified criminal federal lawyer in Laredo with significant experience in high-level theft defense as soon as possible.

How to get out of embezzlement charges

If you are facing embezzlement charges in Texas, there are several potential defense strategies that could be employed depending on the facts and circumstances of your particular case.  

Some common defenses to embezzlement charges include:

  • Arguing lack of intent, whether that be a mistake or for legitimate business reasons, or you believed yourself to be the material owner of the embezzled property. 
  • Proving insufficient evidence. Remember that the burden of proof rests on the prosecution. 
  • Arguing mistake of fact. Everybody makes mistakes. 
  • Arguing that you made the decisions you made under duress or entrapment.
  • The statute of limitations has passed.
  • If evidence was recovered in a way that did not follow protocol or infringed upon your rights, it may be possible to argue invalid search and seizure.

It is important to note that any potential defenses that could be raised will be based on the facts and circumstances of your case. Therefore, it is essential to seek professional legal counsel to evaluate the evidence and determine which defense strategies may be most effective for you — you don’t have a defense without a defense attorney. 

Life after embezzlement charges

Facing first-time embezzlement charges can be a life-altering event. Regardless of the outcome, it can have profound impacts on your personal and professional life. Conviction can lead to difficulty in securing employment, as potential employers may be wary of hiring someone with a criminal record, particularly for roles that involve financial responsibilities. In some cases, even without conviction, the mere allegation can forever alter your reputation and credibility. 

However, it is crucial to remember that life does continue after embezzlement charges. For first-time offenders, it may be possible to negotiate lesser penalties or even diversion programs that can prevent the charges from becoming a conviction on your record. 

With the guidance of a skilled attorney you can work on rebuilding your life, or better yet avoid a conviction altogether. No matter what the outcome of the embezzlement charge is, it is essential to remember that while criminal charges can be a significant setback, they do not have to define your future. There are resources and support available to help you move forward, with number one being your trusted attorney. 

Facing embezzlement charges in Texas? You need serious legal defense, and fast.

Because both state and federal courts take embezzlement offenses so seriously, anyone facing embezzlement charges in Texas can expect to live with the consequences for years. These consequences more often than not include jail time and a felony record, not to mention the forfeiture of massive amounts of assets.

Therefore, if you find yourself facing embezzlement charges, it is essential to consult with an experienced embezzlement defense attorney in Laredo as soon as possible in order to protect your rights and best interests. 

Javier Guzman of Guzman Law Firm is a highly reputable criminal defense attorney in Laredo, TX, who can help you fight embezzlement charges and form the best defense strategies possible. No matter how serious or complex your case may be, Javier can provide sound legal representation to protect your rights and future in state and federal courts. 

Call Javier Guzman at the Guzman Law Firm today at (956) 452-0946 or contact us online for a consultation. 

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