When a crime has been committed, there is usually a length of time the state will allow before it drops the case. This is referred to as the crime’s “statute of limitations.” Generally, the statute of limitations is in direct proportion to the severity of the crime. The law will try to find justice for a grizzly murder for as long as it is able. For shoplifting, it’s going to give up much sooner.
Embezzlement is one of those fuzzy crimes where its severity changes depending on the situation. Its statute of limitations is conditional to the value of the stolen property.
Embezzlement is a form of larceny, which is a legal term for “theft.” It is more indirect than other forms of theft, which is why it has its own classification. Instead of directly taking money or property from someone, embezzlement withholds money from someone.
Say you entrusted someone to invest your money. Your investment hits it big time, and you make a total of four million dollars on the deal. The investor, your employee, tells you that you made only three million dollars and keeps a million for themselves. That’s embezzlement. Instead of just robbing you of one million dollars, the investor committed fraud. One component of embezzlement is that it involves property that was entrusted to someone else, and fraud is another element that separates embezzlement from direct theft.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Embezzlement?
In the state of Virginia, there is only a statute of limitations on embezzlement charges if it is charged as a misdemeanor offense.
Felonies are considered the most severe crimes, and misdemeanors are the next step down. Even then, there are classes for both felonies and misdemeanors. A Class 1 misdemeanor is more egregious than a Class 2, and so forth. Whether or not embezzlement is a misdemeanor depends on the value of the stolen property. If the property is valued at less than $200, the embezzlement is a Class 1 misdemeanor. In most misdemeanor cases, the state has one year to charge someone. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
If the property is valued at more than $200, the embezzlement charge becomes a felony. Felonies in Virginia typically come in Class 1 – 6. There are other felonies that are specified as “Class U,” because they don’t fit within the specific parameters of the other felonies. Embezzlement is one of these Class U felonies. As a felony, embezzlement has no statute of limitations; it is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; and it may have fines of up to $2,500.
I am Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law, and I am here to help protect citizens who have been accused of embezzlement. With years of experience, I can help you build a defense and give you the representation you deserve in court. Call (540) 827-4446 for a free consultation. I can also be reached online.