What is the Law on “Misappropriation of funds” in Alabama and What are the Punishments for it?
The term misappropriation basically means the use of someone’s likeness for illegal or fraudulent purposes. Such use is almost always unauthorized and without permission. Such use should also cause considerable harm to that person, which can result in legal action.
In simple terminology, if a person uses someone’s name, work or assets for their own benefit, without the knowledge of the owner, it would amount to misappropriation. The important element is that the user must be unauthorized and fraudulent. The person who is misappropriating must be capable of making use and benefitting from the asset.
What is Misappropriation of Funds?
The crime of misappropriation of funds typically takes place in business settings. On the other hands, public officials are also some of the most commonly accused in cases of misappropriation of funds. In cases where a person is named the administrator of a deceased person’s estate or funds uses the said assets for their own gain, it amounts to misappropriation. If any person is assigned with the responsibility of caring for and protecting another person’s assets, they are bound to honor said responsibility and not make use of the funds. Doing so would amount to fraudulent misappropriation.
We often see trustees of trusts engage in misappropriation of funds. Such fraudulent activity may go unnoticed unless specifically investigated. Misappropriation is a serious crime which is punishable by law.
Misappropriation of Funds and Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of using another person’s funds or assets for fraudulent purposes. In the legal terminology, embezzlement is considered to be the misuse of another’s property left in one’s care or for other specific purposes. Here, property does not mean land. The property would entail something that is tangible and valuable and belongs in the possession of a person. Therefore, embezzlement would mean the fraudulent use of someone’s property for purposes of conversion or intended use. For example, a financial advisor can misuse his investor’s funds (property) for his own uses, without the knowledge of the property owners.
What is Misappropriation of Funds in Alabama?
In the state of Alabama, misappropriation of funds is a serious criminal offense with numerous consequences. The criminal activity is called embezzlement and requires plenty of investigation. Although embezzlement is not statutorily listed as a criminal offense, it is treated as a form of theft, which bears its own set of punishments. The difference between theft and embezzlement is that in the former, the property owner does not hand over his property to the embezzler. Whereas, embezzlement requires the property owner to knowingly hand over the property, after which the embezzler illegally makes fraudulent use of a said property.
The punishments for misappropriation of funds and embezzlement in Alabama is as follows –
- Alabama Criminal Code Title 13A, Criminal Code 13A-8-3
If over USD 2500 was embezzled, this would constitute theft of property in the first degree. If at least one person was involved in pre-panning the crime, it is considered as a Class B felony, leading to a prison sentence of two to twenty years.
- If USD 1500 to USD 2500 was embezzled, it would constitute a theft of property in the second degree and a Class C felony. The punishment for this is a prison sentence between one and ten years. The embezzler may be fined up to USD 15,000 for the crime.
- If less than USD 1500 was embezzled, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor of theft of property in the third degree. The punishment for this would usually be a prison sentence of one year or less and a fine of up to USD 6000.
The crime of misappropriation of funds is a serious one and will be treated with strict action.