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What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a crime against property. The key aspect that differentiates it from other types of theft is that the accused had legal access to money belonging to another.

Simply taking property that is not yours is stealing. Embezzlement occurs when you have access to the property due to a position of trust and authority.

Positions that can lead to embezzlement

Many jobs offer certain employees access to handling and managing other people's money. These include bank tellers, investment managers, and corporate executives. Some people may embezzle in a nonprofessional context, such as when being in charge of managing a relative's assets.

Range of penalties

Pennsylvania penalties for embezzlement can vary depending on the amounts involved and the type of property. Embezzling property worth less than $50 may entail a penalty of up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. For amounts between $50 and $200, these respective penalties increase to up to two years and up to $5,000. When the property is worth between $200 and $2,000, potential fines go up to $10,000 and potential jail terms to five years. Embezzling property worth more than $2,000 or embezzling any type of motor vehicle can result in paying a fine of up to $15,000 and/or going to jail for up to seven years.

Special provisions

Certain types of property bring particularly harsh penalties, no matter what their value. Embezzling anhydrous ammonia, a firearm or anything at all during a disaster can result in a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Insurance company employees and school treasurers also face special penalties. Embezzling from an insurance company can mean paying a fine equal to the embezzled amount and/or up to five years in prison. Embezzling school property in any amount means a fine of between $25 and $1,000 and/or between 30 days and five years in jail.

Embezzlement prosecutions can be particularly complicated. They can also have ramifications beyond specific criminal penalties, especially for those in licensed professions or without United States citizenship.