Theft crimes can carry harsh penalties, with certain, aggravating factors leading to more dire consequences for the person accused. Theft crimes involving weapons, violence or a breach of trust can often carry more significant consequences than simple petty theft.
Embezzlement is a form of theft that violates the trust inherent in an employment relationship, as embezzlement is the crime of stealing or misappropriating assets or funds from your employer. On a very small scale, some forms of this common white-collar crime may result in misdemeanor offenses.
However, most cases of embezzlement involve large amounts of money and will therefore result in felony charges. Learning about how Colorado determines what charges to bring against someone accused of embezzlement can help you better plan for your criminal defense.
The value of the items involved and the nature of your job influence the charges
In most cases involving allegations of embezzlement, as with most kinds of theft crimes, the financial value of the assets taken will be the primary guiding factor in whether the charges the state brings against you are misdemeanor or felony charges.
However, if you are a civil servant, meaning that you work for the federal government, the state, the county or a municipality, any amount of embezzlement that involves public property will immediately result in felony charges.
In cases of embezzlement from non-public coffers, the value of the assets taken must be worth at least $2,000 for the state to bring felony charges against you. An amount of less than $50 results in a Class 1 petty offense, while an amount of at least $50 but less than $2,000 will result in misdemeanor charges.
The severity or class of the misdemeanor or felony charge increases incrementally with the total value of the amount embezzled. The highest potential charge for embezzlement involves $1,000,000 or more worth of assets and results in a Class 2 felony charge that can carry between eight and 24 years in prison, as well as a fine of as much as $1,000,000.
Embezzlement charges can affect your future employment
Many people are keen to avoid the embarrassment of a criminal trial and the protracted leave of absence from work that it requires. They may leap at the opportunity to secure a plea bargain to a lower charged with fewer penalties associated with it without knowing about how that plea could affect their future.
Unfortunately, if you plead guilty to a lesser offense, any future employer that does a background check can reasonably presume you were guilty of the initial embezzlement charge. That means you could find yourself struggling to secure any kind of gainful employment, even if you avoid jail time or massive fines. A robust and thorough defense offers you a better chance of protecting your employability and the future of your career.