What Is the Law on Misappropriation of Funds in Maine and What Are the Punishments for It?
Misappropriation of Funds refers to the act of stealing another person’s property, without authorization, for personal gain.
Misappropriation of Funds is often considered to be the same as theft. Theft is a crime wherein a person steals property that is in another person’s possession. Whereas, when a person hands over property to another person, for caretaking or other purposes, and this property is stolen without authorization, it amounts to misappropriation of funds. The person should have to legally hand over said property, either wholly or partially, to the other person for the crime to constitute misappropriation. The ownership of the property can also be transferred for the crime to be valid.
In this context, property basically means anything of value that is under a person’s possession. When we speak about Misappropriation of Funds, this property is monetary.
Apart from the general meaning, the basic element that distinguishes theft and misappropriation is that of trust. When a thief decides to steal some property, the said property was never in the possession of the thief in the first place. The thief may also resort to violence in order to carry out their crime. When a person knowingly hands over their valuable property to another person, either in the scope of the profession or otherwise, they are doing so in good faith.
Therefore, when this relationship is established and the crime occurs in such a scenario, it destroys the element of trust. Misappropriation of funds requires the possession of the property to have been transferred from the property owner to the other person, for any specific intent or purpose. The person who steals the property should have done so with a malicious intent of taking away the possession of the property from the owner.
Examples of misappropriation of funds include – a financial advisor stealing money from the investors for his personal gain, a trustee stealing from a trust fund without authorization, theft by a bank examiner, credit card fraud and so on.
Misappropriation of Funds in Maine
In the State of Maine, the crime of misappropriation of funds is called embezzlement. Embezzlement can be defined as theft by Misappropriation. It is common to see embezzlement in the business world. Several people engage in embezzlement, especially when they find loopholes to do so. In a company, embezzlement can most likely be committed by a person who is left in charge of the monetary assets of the company. People responsible for overlooking payroll and other company funds can misuse this position for their personal gain. Similarly, a person serving public office can also misuse the funds that are meant for public welfare. They can do so simply by being in a position of power. Bribery and receiving stolen property are also crimes that fall under the scope of embezzlement.
The State of Maine views the crime of embezzlement in a very serious manner. Embezzlement can also be considered as a federal offense when a federal entity is involved. The punishments for a federal offense of embezzlement is always harsher and is decided by the court based on the amount stolen.
The penalties for the crime of embezzlement is as follows-
- If the person steals property that has a value of less than USD 500, they will have to serve a prison term of up to one year. An additional fine of USD 1000 may also be levied.
- If the value of the property is more than USD 500 but less than USD 1000, the person will be charged with a prison sentence of up to three years and/or a USD 3000 fine.
- If the value of the property is more than USD 1000 but less than USD 10,000, the person can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and /or a fine of USD 5000.