Understanding embezzlement charges

Embezzlement can have serious consequences for those accused. A conviction for this crime may result in prison time and a fine. It can occur in corporate fields and positions where one person monitors or manages another person’s funds. 


The definition of this financial crime is when someone takes illegal possession of property or finances by gaining the trust of the owner. They may have access to funds for safekeeping and refuse to return the money. For example, if an office manager or accountant diverts an employer’s funds into an account for personal use, this is embezzlement. 


Classification of embezzlement  

An embezzler may take a large quantity of money at once or take small quantities over a long period of time. If a person does not keep the funds but sells, gives away or destroys them, he or she may still face charges of embezzlement. 


An embezzlement case has several requirements: 

  • Trusted relationship between the defendant and plaintiff 
  • Funds accessed because of the trusted relationship between the parties 
  • Intent on the part of the defendant  

Charges for embezzlement 

Embezzlement charges may be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the crime. A crime of $100 or less is a misdemeanor charge with consequences of up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, while a case involving $100 to $1000 can result in a jail sentence of as much as 18 months and a $500 fine. 


For amounts from $1000 to 100,000, it may lead to a felony conviction with up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. For amounts over $100,000, the person may face up to 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. 


Statute of limitations 

After a person has committed embezzlement, there is a statute of limitations for certain charges that prevent him or her from facing prosecution after a certain timeframe. For misdemeanor embezzlement in Maryland, the statute of limitations dictate that a person must face charges within two years from the date of the crime. 



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