What is the Law on "Misappropriation of funds" in Texas and What are the Punishments for it?
Misappropriation of funds or embezzlement laws in Texas falls under the criminalizing theft law. Embezzlement is usually considered a white-collar crime. However, it doesn’t only have to be a white-collar offense. There are many cases of embezzlement which involve elements of fraud.
Example – An employee who works at a cash register of a store is entrusted with the money of his/her employer. If the employee steals money from the store, it is termed misappropriation of funds and is considered theft.
The Law on Misappropriation of Funds in Texas
The law in Texas states that prosecutors need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused has appropriated funds with the intention of depriving the owner of the funds without the consent of the owner. Here are a couple of the more common ways that people are caught with misappropriation of funds charges.
- Theft of funds from an employer
- Transferring funds to a defendant’s personal account from a corporate account
- Changing the company’s books, so that the defendant’s employer has concealed income
Common defenses to charges relating to misappropriation of funds are listed below.
- A clerical error in which the defendant made an honest mistake in his/her math which made it look like there were funds being concealed.
- No intention to deprive the original owner of the funds
- The defendant received consent from the owner of the fund
What are the Penalties for People Found Guilty of Misappropriation of Funds?
Cases, where the amount misappropriated, is up to $1,500 result in the crime being considered a misdemeanor and up to a year in jail. When the amount misappropriated is between $1,500 and $20,000, it is a state jail felony with penalties of up to two years in state jail. When the amount misappropriated is between $20,000 and $100,000, the crime is a 3rd-degree felony with a jail time ranging from 2 to 10 years. When the amount is between $100,000 and $200,000, the crime is a 2nd-degree felony with jail time of 2 to 20 years in state prison. If the amount misappropriated is in excess of $200,000, the crime is considered a 1st-degree felony with 5 to 99 years of jail time in state prison.
In addition to jail time, misappropriation of funds charges can sometimes include fines. A first, second or third-degree misappropriation felony can involve fines of up to $10,000.
The Texas Penal Code is very clear on misappropriation charges. The punishment for convicted individuals is dependent on the amount of money involved.
Misappropriation doesn’t require the accused to use the funds. Courts recognize that it’s enough for a person to transfer money which isn’t theirs to a bank account as well as fail or refuse to give the owner’s money back when the owner demands it. People who
misappropriate funds with the intent to return those funds are still guilty of misappropriation. The length of time that the misappropriation lasted doesn’t matter.
If you or anyone you know is charged with misappropriation of funds, the first thing you need to do is schedule appointments with lawyers who are qualified and have years of experience. Speaking to multiple lawyers is always a good option as multiple opinions are better than a single opinion. A lawyer with plenty of experience will increase your chances of fighting a wrong accusation. Misappropriation of funds is a serious accusation with tough consequences if it isn’t dealt with in the right way. Since each case is different, speaking to a qualified lawyer will inform you of the best course of action to take.