Whether you take money from the register you are working at or cook the books, it is no secret that this activity is criminal. Although New Jersey does not have a separate embezzlement statute, this crime is included in NJ’s general theft statute [i.e. N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3-11]. A conviction could lead to jail time, a steep fine, and a criminal record.
What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is the fraudulent conversion of the personal property of another by a person in lawful possession of that property. What makes embezzlement unique among other types of theft crimes is that the owner of the property temporarily gives you custody over the property.
In other words, you are entrusted with the property for a certain period of time. After that period of time elapses, you are required to give it back. Essentially, embezzlement occurs when you subsequently convert that property for your own use (i.e. you take it instead of giving it back). This crime is usually seen in the context of employer-employee relationships. For example, the person ringing up your groceries at the supermarket is entrusted with the responsibility of holding onto the money that you give him in a cash register. If that person decides to pocket some of the money at the end of his shift, this would be considered embezzlement. Remember, embezzlement requires the specific intent to defraud after lawfully taking possession of the property.
Additionally, what sets embezzlement apart from other theft crimes is your use of the property in a way that is inconsistent with the terms of the trust you were given. In our example above, pocketing the money from the register, instead of giving it to the manager, is utterly inconsistent with the terms of the trust given to him. Thus, embezzlement comes into play when you lawfully had possession of the property for a temporary period of time and subsequently decided to keep it.
Penalties and Fines
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If you are found guilty of embezzlement, your penalty will directly correlate to the value of what you stole.
- If you embezzled money or property valued at less than $200, you will be guilty of a disorderly person’s offense that can land you behind bars for up to 6 months and force you to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
- If you embezzled money or property worth $200-$500, you will be guilty of a fourth degree crime and can be imprisoned for 18 months and fined up to $10,000.
- If you embezzled money or property worth more than $500 but less than $75,000, you will be guilty of a third degree crime and can be imprisoned for up to 5 years and fined up to $15,000.
- If you embezzled money or property worth more than $75,000, you will be guilty of a second degree crime and can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to $150,000.
Moreover, there are hidden penalties associated with committing embezzlement and other theft-related crimes. Aside from having a criminal record, being a convicted criminal can cost you a job before you even have the ability to interview for one. Imagine having to admit to having such a conviction on a job application for an employer who requires you to be trustworthy. Ultimately, a conviction can cost you your livelihood as well as your freedom.
Therefore, make sure to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the right defenses to raise and how to go about protecting your legal rights.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or a loved one was charged with embezzlement or theft in New Jersey, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of Rosenblum Law today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will defend your constitutional rights, fight to keep you out of jail and do what he can to have your embezzlement charges dismissed. E-mail or call him today at 888-815-3649.