Information on Embezzlement from a Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer

When most people think of embezzlement, they consider it to be someone in a large corporation stealing huge amounts of money from their employer. It is a classic movie scenario and thus conjures these types of images. In grand scale cases of embezzlement, this may be the case, but it certainly does not need to be large sums of money, or involve large corporations to be charged with embezzlement.

The truth is, embezzlement is a specific type of theft crime that falls into the category of a white collar crime. The punishment for this type of crime is generally harsh and is directly correlated to the amount of money or property stolen. Thus, the higher the value, the harsher the punishment.

If you have been charged with embezzlement, you should seek the help of a qualified theft attorney immediately. Protecting your rights, your freedom and your good name are too important.

An experienced criminal attorney can help you understand your charges and provide sound legal defense against deficient or flawed evidence and possible simple misunderstandings.


Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation


To be convicted of embezzlement, a person has been proved to have taken money or property that rightfully belongs to another for their own financial gain.

This sounds a lot like a typical theft. However, the key to the crime of embezzlement, is that the thief was a person that was entrusted to protect the money or property that they stole. Under the law, this obligation to protect money or property of another is called a fiduciary duty. Therefore, embezzlement is simply a theft that occurs due to a breach of one’s fiduciary duty.

The breach of fiduciary duty can happen in any number of ways.

Perhaps there was some type of fraud or deception tactics used. Maybe the money or property was extorted from its owner. Whatever the case may be, the defendant’s duty was to protect, and instead, they used their position to take assets from their rightful owner for their personal gain.

Some examples of those who can typically be considered to owe a fiduciary duty are: trustees of an estate, investment or financial portfolio managers, corporate executives, and bank tellers/employees. All of these people have direct access to the assets of another and are responsible for protecting, or helping maintain, said assets.


Since there is no one law in Pennsylvania for embezzlement, there could be additional charges brought upon the defendant. While embezzlement may include the crime of fraud as a means to obtaining the stolen money or property, the two crimes are not the same.

Fraud involves an intentionally deceptive act. This could include the creation of false documents, identity theft, or some other act involving lies and/or deceit.

Embezzlement is a theft crime that requires the actor be in a position of responsibility over the money or property stolen. They have been granted direct access to the assets in question, and instead of protecting the assets, they use their access to steal them. Therefore, if the embezzlement also included some type of fraud, the defendant could be charged with additional crimes.

Embezzlement is also listed as one of the 35 crimes that fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) of 1970.

Depending on who, or what, was involved in the circumstances of the embezzlement, you could face federal RICO charges—which would lead to some of the strictest penalties under the law.


As with most theft crimes in Pennsylvania, the amount or value of the money or property that was stolen will be a factor in determining the punishment. Punishment often involves a fine, jail, or both.

The punishment breakdown by property value for an embezzlement conviction in PA is as follows:

  • $50 or less: Up to 1 year in jail and fine of up to $2,500
  • $50—$200: Up to 2 years in jail and fine of up to $5,000
  • $200 but less than $2,000: Up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000
  • $2000 or greater: Up to 7 years in jail and a fine of up to $15,000

If the property was worth $500,000 or more, this crime is a first-degree felony that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.

Whether a theft charge ends up being a misdemeanor or a felony, a conviction can have a major impact on your future and your family’s future. It can be very difficult to get a job once you have a theft conviction on your record.

However, being charged with theft does not mean you will be convicted—building a strong legal defense can help protect your rights and freedom.

Defending Your Rights Against Embezzlement Charges

If you have been charged with violating a fiduciary duty for personal financial gain and are facing embezzlement charges, consult a qualified and experienced theft attorney about your case.

At Ketchel Law, our number one goal is to have your case dismissed.

A strong defense that pursues every angle can make the difference between a guilty and not guilty verdict—the difference between your freedom and being locked up.


Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation

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