Embezzlement: NY Penal Law Article 155

by ECL Writer
New York Embezzlement Laws:

Embezzlement is a serious white-collar crime that can have devastating consequences for both individuals and businesses. In New York, embezzlement cases are taken very seriously by law enforcement officials, and those who are found guilty can face significant legal consequences, including imprisonment and fines. This type of financial fraud involves the misappropriation of funds by someone who has been entrusted with managing those funds. Embezzlement can occur in a variety of settings, including in corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will delve into the topic of New York embezzlement, discussing the legal definition of the crime, the penalties for those who are convicted, and some examples of high-profile embezzlement cases that have occurred in the state.

Definition Of Embezzlement In New York

A New York Embezzlement Lawyer can tell you that the offense of Embezzlement is defined as unjustly stealing property or cash that was entrusted to one party but owned by someone else. It is classified as a form of theft, although it works differently than other theft crimes such as petit larceny or grand larceny. If convicted, the legal penalties for this crime can be significant.

Embezzlement is the fraudulent taking of property by an individual that is in legitimate possession of the goods. This is often referred to as fraudulent conversion. Conversion is defined as gaining control or ownership of the property of another or using something that was entrusted to you for your own advantage or benefit, and using it in a way that was not approved.

In order to prove this charge, the New York District Attorney will need to prove:

  • The property belonged to someone else;
  • The property must have been converted to someone other than the accused;
  • The accused must have been trusted by the property owner;
  • The accused must have defrauded the property owner.

These situations frequently occur in the context of an employment relationship. This crime can occur in other fiduciary relationships, however, where an individual has access to another person’s assets, business interests, or money. The prosecutor will look for evidence of tampered or altered records, or other white-collar crimes that may have been committed to hide the embezzlement.

Crimes And Penalties For Embezzlement In New York

The crimes for embezzlement are, in brief order, as follows:

First-Degree Grand Larceny

NY PL 155.42 is a class “B” felony punishable by as much as twenty-five years in prison where a fraud exceeds $1,000,000.

Second Degree Grand Larceny

NY PL 155.40 is a class “C” felony punishable by as much as fifteen years in prison where a wrongful taking exceeds $50,000 and is not greater than $1,000,000.

Third-Degree Grand Larceny

NY PL 155.35 is a class “D” felony punishable by as long as seven years in prison where the theft exceeds $3,000 and is no greater than $50,000.

Fourth Degree Grand Larceny

NY PL 155.30 is a class “E” felony punishable by as much as four years in prison where one steals more than $1,000 but not more than $3,000.

Statute Of Limitations For Embezzlement In New York

In New York, the statute of limitations for embezzlement varies depending on the amount of money or property stolen. The statute of limitations is the time period within which a criminal charge must be brought against the accused.

For embezzlement of property worth less than $3,000, the statute of limitations is two years. If the value of the property embezzled is more than $3,000 but less than $50,000, the statute of limitations is five years. For embezzlement of property worth more than $50,000, the statute of limitations is six years.

It is important to note that the statute of limitations clock does not begin to run until the crime is discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence. This means that if the embezzlement is ongoing, the statute of limitations will not begin until the embezzlement is discovered or should have been discovered.

Additionally, if the accused flees the state or country to avoid prosecution, the statute of limitations may be tolled or suspended until the accused is found and returned to New York.

Defenses For Embezzlement Charges In New York

Embezzlement is a serious crime in New York, and if convicted, the penalties can be severe. Embezzlement involves the theft of money or property that has been entrusted to the defendant by someone else, such as an employer or client. However, there are several defenses that can be used to fight embezzlement charges.

Lack of Intent

One of the most common defenses for embezzlement is to argue that there was no intent to steal or defraud. Embezzlement requires a specific intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property. If the defendant can show that they had no intent to steal the property and that they believed they had a legitimate claim to it, this can be a strong defense.

Lack of Knowledge

Another defense is to argue that the defendant did not know that the property was stolen or that they were not aware that they were taking someone else’s property. This defense is particularly strong if the defendant can prove that they were acting in good faith and believed that the property was rightfully theirs.

Consent

If the defendant can show that they had the owner’s consent to take the property, this can be a strong defense. For example, if the owner gave the defendant permission to use the property in a certain way or to take it temporarily, then the defendant may have a valid defense against embezzlement charges.

Mistake of Fact

If the defendant can show that they made an honest mistake and did not intend to steal or defraud the owner, this can be a strong defense. For example, if the defendant believed that they were entitled to the property or did not know that the property belonged to someone else, this may be a valid defense.

Entrapment

Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officers induce someone to commit a crime that they would not have committed otherwise. If the defendant can show that they were induced to commit the crime by law enforcement officials, this can be a valid defense.

Insufficient Evidence

If the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove that the defendant committed the crime, this can be a strong defense. In order to prove embezzlement, the prosecution must show that the defendant took the property, intended to steal it and that the property belonged to someone else. If the prosecution cannot prove all three of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, then the defendant may be able to avoid a conviction.

Embezzlement charges are serious, and it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to fight the charges. A skilled attorney can evaluate the evidence against you and develop a strong defense strategy that can help you avoid a conviction or minimize the penalties if you are found guilty. Possible defenses for embezzlement charges in New York include lack of intent, lack of knowledge, consent, mistake of fact, entrapment, and insufficient evidence.

Differences Between Embezzlement And Other Types Of Theft

Embezzlement and other types of theft are both illegal acts that involve taking someone else’s property without permission. However, there are significant differences between embezzlement and other types of theft, including theft by deception, theft by extortion, and simple theft.

Embezzlement is a form of theft where the perpetrator is someone who has been entrusted with the property they are stealing. In embezzlement, the perpetrator has legal access to the property but then takes it for their own use without permission. For example, an accountant who takes money from their employer’s accounts or a cashier who takes money from the cash register would be guilty of embezzlement.

On the other hand, theft by deception occurs when the perpetrator obtains property from the victim through fraud or misrepresentation. For example, a person who convinces an elderly person to give them money by posing as a charity worker would be guilty of theft by deception.

Theft by extortion is another type of theft that occurs when the perpetrator obtains property from the victim through the use of threats or force. For example, a person who threatens to harm someone if they do not hand over their wallet would be guilty of theft by extortion.

Finally, simple theft, also known as larceny, occurs when the perpetrator takes property without permission but does not use fraud, misrepresentation, threats, or force to obtain it. For example, a person who steals a bike from a bike rack would be guilty of simple theft.

One significant difference between embezzlement and other types of theft is that embezzlement typically involves a breach of trust. In embezzlement cases, the perpetrator has been given legal access to the property they are stealing, and their crime involves a violation of that trust. In contrast, other types of theft often involve deception, threats, or force to obtain property.

Another key difference is the severity of the punishment for embezzlement versus other types of theft. Embezzlement is often considered a more serious crime than simple theft because of the breach of trust involved. The penalties for embezzlement can include significant fines and imprisonment, depending on the amount of money involved and other factors. In contrast, the penalties for simple theft may be less severe.

Legal Assistance For Embezzlement Charges In New York

If you are facing embezzlement charges in New York, it is essential to seek legal assistance immediately. Embezzlement is a serious offense that carries severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. A skilled attorney can help you understand your legal options and develop a defense strategy tailored to your unique circumstances.

The first step in seeking legal assistance for embezzlement charges in New York is to find an experienced criminal defense attorney. Look for a lawyer who has experience handling embezzlement cases and who is familiar with New York’s criminal justice system. You may want to ask for referrals from friends or family members or consult with a professional legal referral service.

Once you have found an attorney, they will begin working on your case immediately. They will review the evidence against you and work with you to develop a defense strategy that may involve challenging the evidence, negotiating a plea deal, or fighting the charges in court.

Your attorney may also be able to help you with other legal issues related to your embezzlement charges, such as negotiating with the victim or their representatives to repay any money that was taken. This can be an important step in mitigating the damage caused by the embezzlement and may help reduce your sentence.

If you are found guilty of embezzlement in New York, the penalties can be severe. Depending on the amount of money involved and other factors, you may face fines, imprisonment, probation, or other consequences. Your attorney can help you understand the potential consequences of a guilty verdict and work to minimize the impact on your life and future.

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