Crimes of embezzlement are theft offenses that involve the property, which is defined in New Jersey laws as “anything of value.” Examples may include money, real estate, personal items, intellectual property, and more. Acts of theft deprive the rightful owner of their property. Depriving may include withholding property temporarily or permanently or otherwise disposing of it.
Key Elements of an Embezzlement Offense
The offense is committed by someone serving in a fiduciary role or other position of trust. The property involved was accessible due to the individual's employment. The offense must be committed knowingly and the property was obtained for their personal use. The term fiduciary is commonly used to describe an executor, guardian, trustee, agent, and others.
Embezzlement is an offense within a broad category of “white-collar” offenses that are typically committed for some financial benefit. When the crime is committed by a business or government employee, it is often categorized as occupational fraud. Roughly 32% of white-collar crimes are prosecuted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Grading of Theft Offenses
Theft offenses in New Jersey are charged according to the value of the property involved and a host of other factors. The maximum penalties vary widely as follows:
Embezzlement may be a second-degree offense when the value of the property is $75,000 or more. If the crime is committed by a fiduciary, this threshold is reduced to $50,000 or more.
Other Degrees of Offenses
The offense is charged as third-degree when the value of the property involved is between $500 and $75,000. This applies to someone in a fiduciary role when the value is less than $50,000. Fourth-degree offenses involve those valued from $200 to $500, with all others being a disorderly person offense.
Factors Subject to Enhanced Penalties for Theft Offenses
Theft offenses in New Jersey that involve certain property or other factors may be enhanced or upgraded in severity. Examples include firearms, controlled substances, blank prescriptions, and others.
Four primary defenses may be employed in theft cases including:
- The defendant was not aware that the property belonged to someone else
- The act was rightful based on the defendant's role that allowed for the property to be appropriated as it was
- Involved property that was currently for sale and the defendant was either intending to pay for it or believed that the owner would have consented to the act
- Under the majority of circumstances, criminal charges for theft do not apply to spouses
Venues for Criminal Cases in Burlington County
Burlington County has roughly 39 Municipal Courts operated at the city or township level. Municipal Courts in New Jersey have limited jurisdiction, handling only disorderly person offenses, motor vehicle and parking violations, and local ordinance offenses. More serious criminal cases at transferred to the Superior Court at the county level.
Burlington County Court Facility
49 Rancocas Road
Mount Holly, NJ 08060
Legal Representation for Embezzlement Charges
Have you been accused of embezzlement or another similar criminal activity? Joseph D. Lento maintains a solid track record of aggressively defending clients in New Jersey. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for additional information.