Being charged with fraud or embezzlement can be a harrowing experience. Your freedom and liberty are on the line, since prosecutors vehemently pursue these types of cases and pull out all stops to try to get a conviction. Many times, prosecutors look to make a name for themselves by prosecuting white collar criminals to the max. Since the weight of a conviction for these types of crimes is quite significant when it comes to sentencing, it is vital that you start working on your defense immediately after finding out you are under investigation or if you have been formally charged. Our Westmoreland County fraud and embezzlement charges attorney has experience dealing with this type of criminal charge and offers aggressive defense to help you preserve your liberty and freedom.
What Constitutes Fraud?
There are a myriad of scenarios that might be considered fraud in Pennsylvania, but most boil down to using deceit to bring about your own financial gain. For example, an antique dealer who sells an object as authentic when it is not is committing fraud. Writing a check when you know there is no money in the bank to cover the amount of the check is also fraud. Filing an erroneous insurance claim in order to collect money from an insurer is a fraudulent act.
The seriousness of the offense depends on the value of gain that the defendant received as a result of the fraudulent act. Misdemeanor fraud convictions carry sentences of up to five years in prison, while felony offenses may come with up to seven years of incarceration. There may also be steep fines involved, depending on the actual charge.
What Constitutes Embezzlement?
Embezzlement involves the fraudulent taking or misappropriation of either money or property of which the accused has been entrusted. The embezzler has a fiduciary responsibility to the owner of the money or property, such as an employee at a bank or a manager in charge of a fund. Retail employees who steal merchandise may in some cases be charged with embezzlement. No single law covers the potential embezzlement crimes that one might be charged within Pennsylvania. However, anti-theft offenses in the state, such as theft by extortion or theft by deception are generally the most common types of embezzlement charges made against defendants.
The penalties for embezzlement hinge mainly on the type of property involved and the value of the property. For instance, theft under $50 may result in a charge that leads to a year in jail, while theft of $51 to $200 may result in up to two years in jail upon conviction. Embezzlement of more than $2,000 is classified as grand theft and is a felony charge that may result incarceration for up to seven years if convicted.