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Texas Embezzlement Laws

Overview of Texas Embezzlement Laws

Texas embezzlement laws fall under the law criminalizing theft. Embezzlement is essentially financial theft by an employee. It can be considered white collar crime in some instances but it does not have to be only a white collar offense. It occurs when the defendant is entrusted with his or her employer's money or goods and then steals those money or goods. Many instances of embezzlement also involve elements of fraud.

Example: The employee working at a cash register of a retail store is entrusted with her employer's money and goods. If the employee starts stealing money from the store, this is called embezzlement and falls under the crime of theft. Another example is a person who oversees corporate accounts. If this person begins to steal some of the money in those corporate accounts, this is also known as embezzlement.

Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant appropriated property, such as money or goods, with the intent to deprive the true owner of the property without the owner's consent. Some of the more well-known ways to be caught up in an embezzlement charge are the following:

  • Theft of cash from an employer
  • Theft of goods or services from an employer
  • Transferring funds from a corporate account of the defendant's employer to the defendant's personal bank account
  • Altering company books in some way in order to conceal income to the defendant's employer

Defenses to Embezzlement Charges

  • Mistake (i.e. the defendant did not intend to alter company books to conceal income, but rather made an honest mistake in some of his math which lead to the apparent concealment)
  • Lack of intent to deprive the owner of the property
  • Consent was given by the owner of the property

NOTE: Entrapment is not a defense. Under this law, it is not a defense that law enforcement solicited, provided the facility for or deceived or strategized to get the defendant to commit the crime.

Penalties and Sentences

Texas embezzlement laws, or theft laws, provide for a number of different penalties upon conviction. The factor that determines the severity of the punishment if convicted on a charge of embezzlement is the amount or value of the goods, services or cash stolen. For the smallest amounts ($50 and under), the charge will be a "Class C" misdemeanor carrying a penalty of a simple fine of up $500. The most serious charge will be for stealing $200,000 or more in goods, services or cash. This is considered a first degree felony and can be punishable by five to ninety-nine years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Texas Embezzlement Laws: Statute

Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 31 (Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 31)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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