What Is the Law on Misappropriation of Funds in Indiana and What Are the Punishments for It?
Misappropriation is a term that is used to describe the act of using another person’s likeness or property, illegally, for one’s own benefit. Such use should be done with malicious intent and result in considerable harm to the person.
Misappropriation of Funds typically occurs in business settings. As the name suggests, when a person makes use of another person’s property for their own benefit, and when such use is unauthorized, it amounts to misappropriation of funds. One may wonder why misappropriation is not called theft. Although the two acts carry a degree of similarity, they are different in the context of Criminal Law.
Theft takes place when the property is stolen from a person’s possession. Whereas, when the property is handed over to another person for caretaking or any other purpose, and when such property is stolen, it amounts to Misappropriation of Funds. The basic element that distinguishes the two is that of trust. When someone hands over this property to another person with trust, they intend it to be in safe hands. We see a lot of public officials indulging in the act of misappropriation of funds. Public officials with access to accounts or funds, in particular, are often found guilty of this crime.
Property in this context means either a monetary sum or anything of value that is under a person’s possession.
Examples of misappropriation of funds include – credit card fraud, forged invoices, an employee stealing from company or employer, trustee stealing from the trust fund for personal use, attorney stealing from funds entrusted to him by the client and so on.
Misappropriation of Funds in Indiana
Misappropriation is seen to be a far bigger crime than theft. Although the two work on the same principle, misappropriation also accounts for the destruction of trust. When trust in people and the government is damaged, it can negatively impact society as a whole.
In the State of Indiana, Misappropriation of Funds is called Embezzlement. Embezzlement is considered to be the misuse of another’s property left in one’s care or for other specific purposes. Misappropriation of Funds falls under Embezzlement as it pertains only to monetary property, whereas embezzlement can include other property such as land, valuables, deeds and so on. The person can also indulge in criminal conversion, where a property with a certain value is stolen and converted for personal gain. The crime should involve the intention of depriving the person of the possession of the said property. Embezzlement is considered to be a serious crime with dire consequences.
Here is a list of penalties for the crime of embezzlement –
- Embezzlement from an estate – If a person steals property belonging to an estate, they are liable to be penalized. Depending on the amount taken, the person will face civil liability. If the person fails to answer to requests for repayment or does not respond to court orders – the court may use its discretion and sentence the person to a prison term it finds suitable.
- If the person steals or embezzles property, the value of which is between USD 750 and USD 50,000, or if they are guilty of prior theft or criminal conversion, they can be charged with a level 6 felony. The person will be sentenced for a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 2.5 years in prison. Additionally, they will have to pay a fine of USD 10,000.
- If the person steals or embezzles property, the value of which is above USD 50,000, they can be charged with a level 5 felony. The person will have to serve a prison term ranging between 1 year to 6 years if found guilty. They will also have to pay a fine of USD 10,000.