What is the Law on "Misappropriation of funds" in Virginia and What are the Punishments for it?
Misappropriation of funds or embezzlement laws in Virginia 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.
What is the difference between embezzlement and misappropriation of funds?
Embezzlement can refer to property or monetary theft. However, misappropriation of funds refers to the theft of money only. Both of the above happens when a person is trusted with another person’s money or property and uses that money or property for their personal gain. Taking property or money which isn’t yours is stealing. When you combine this with a violation of a position of trust, the crime becomes embezzlement.
Punishment for Embezzlement in Virginia
Embezzlement may be a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia. Misdemeanor embezzlement refers to embezzlement where the amount lost is not greater than $200. A person who is convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement faces a penalty of up to one year in prison or a $2,500 fine or both.
A person who is convicted of felony embezzlement is when the amount embezzled is greater than $200. The penalty for felony embezzlement is up to 20 years in prison.
In addition to the penalties, almost everyone involved in embezzlement lose their jobs and find it very hard to find another job.
There are plenty of states which impose harsher penalties if the defendant has embezzled funds from a protected class of victims. Protected class of victims include the elderly, disabled adults and so on. In addition to this, harsher penalties are also imposed in cases where the defendant enjoyed a heightened level of trust with the victim. Examples of this include cases where the defendant is an insurance company employee, bank employee or public servant.
Common ways people are caught for misappropriation of funds
The law in Virginia 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 misappropriation of funds in Virginia
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 funds
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.