Arkansas Embezzlement Laws
Embezzlement is a kind of property theft. It occurs when a defendant, who was entrusted to manage or monitor someone else’s money or property, steals all or part of that money or property for the defendant’s personal gain. The key is that the defendant had legal access to another’s money or property, but not legal ownership of it. Taking the money or property for the defendant’s own gain is stealing; when combined with the fact that this stealing was also a violation of a special position of trust, you have the unique crime of embezzlement.
Embezzlement can occur in a variety of circumstances. For example, a bank teller has legal access to the bank customers' money, and is trusted to handle that money. However, taking or using some (or all) of the money for the teller’s own purposes would be embezzlement. Companies can also embezzle funds, as can family members caring for a relative, professionals like lawyers or board members, or anyone in a position of trust with regard to someone else’s money or property.
For more information about embezzlement, see Embezzlement: Penalties and Sentences.
How is Embezzlement Punished in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, embezzlement is punished according to the value or type of the property stolen. (Arkansas Code Ann. § 5-36-103.)
- Class A misdemeanor. The value of the property is $1,000 or less; or has inherent, subjective, or idiosyncratic value to its owner even if the property has no market value or replacement cost. Penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both. (Arkansas Code Ann. § 5-36-103(b)(4).)
- Class D felony. The value of the property is more than $1,000 but not more than $5,000; the property is a firearm worth less than $2,500; the property is a debit or credit card (or account number); the property is livestock with at least a $200 vlaue; or the property’s value is at least $100, but less than $500 and was stolen during a state of emergency declared by the U.S. President. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to six years in prison, or both. (Arkansas Code Ann. § 5-36-103(b)(3).)
- Class C felony. The value of the property is more than $5,000 but less than $25,000; the property is a firearm worth $2,500 or more; the property is building material worth $500 or more; or the property’s value is $500 or more and was stolen during a state of emergency declared by the U.S. President. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, between three and ten years in prison, or both. (Arkansas Code Ann. § 5-36-103(b)(2).)
- Class B felony. The value of the property is $25,000 or more; or was utility property (property owned by a public utility, such as a gas, electricity, water, sewer, telephone, radio, television, or other similar company), and was worth $500 or more. Penalties include a fine of up to $15,000, between five and 20 years in prison, or both. (Arkansas Code Ann. § 5-36-103(b)(1).)
An Important Note on Local Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a property theft or embezzlement-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of property theft charges are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse. An experienced lawyer can also advise you as to possible alternatives to criminal punishment, such as paying back the money you stole along with court fees and other costs, or some other alternative that your judge might consider.