Three Circumstances That May Aggravate Your Embezzlement Charges

Posted on: 4 December 2017

If you are facing embezzlement charges, there is a chance that the charges may be upgraded to aggravated embezzlement, which is a more serious charge with more dire penalties than standard embezzlement. Here are some of the things that may lead to aggravated embezzlement:

The Victim Belongs To a Protected Class of Victims

You will be accused of aggravated embezzlement if your victim belongs to a special or protected class. Such classes have special protection from the government due to their vulnerability and the severity of the consequences they may suffer if they lose their financial wellbeing. Examples of these classes include elderly and disabled persons. Imagine defrauding an elderly person of thousands of dollars, especially if the elderly person doesn't have a solid source of income and your actions leave them destitute. These are some of the cases that the court is likely to bump up to aggravated embezzlement.

The Defendant Had a Heightened Level of Trust

You can also be charged with aggravated embezzlement if you are in a heightened position of trust as compared to the general public. You will generally be deemed to have a heightened level of trust if you are an authority figure or you are in a position that demands total trust.

For example, a banker is generally regarded as a trusted person, and people don't fear to engage in financial transactions with bankers. Therefore, if a banker embezzles funds from one of their clients, the banker is likely to face aggravated embezzlement charges. Public servants are also usually charged with aggravated rather than standard embezzlement for the same reason.

The Embezzlement Involved Special Properties

Lastly, you can also be charged with aggravated embezzlement if the item you embezzled belongs to a special category of protected items. Embezzlement doesn't always involve money; it refers to the theft or use of an asset for any purpose other than its intended purpose. For example, if you are tasked with taking care of a puppy and then you sell it, you will be deemed to have embezzled the pet. Examples of such special properties include cultures of microorganisms, religious items, and some animals.

The circumstances that determine whether you are charged with standard or aggravated embezzlement depend on your state's laws. Therefore, don't assume that you will be facing a standard embezzlement charge if you aren't conversant with your state's laws. Consult a criminal defense lawyer to examine your case and help you prepare your defense.