Virginia Embezzlement Laws

Embezzlement occurs where someone takes advantage of being entrusted with another's money or property and unlawfully converts it to their own use.

By , Contributing Author

In Virginia, embezzlement is a type of property theft or larceny.

What Is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement 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 client money and is trusted to handle but not take that money. Officers and employees of companies can also embezzle funds belonging to the company, as can family members caring for a relative, professionals like lawyers or board members who handle client or investor money, 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 Virginia?

In Virginia, embezzlement is deemed to be larceny (theft) and punished according to the value or type of property stolen.

  • Money or property worth less than $1,000. This crime falls under petit larceny. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both.
  • Money or property worth $1,000 or more. This crime falls under grand larceny. A person who commits grand larceny faces one to 20 years in prison. However, the law gives the judge the option to reduce the penalty to a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.

Embezzlement becomes a Class 4 felony, however, if the defendant knowingly embezzles public funds while having access to those funds as a public employee (such as a city, county, or state employee). A person who commits this crime faces two to ten years' prions time and up to a $100,000 fine.

(Va. Code §§ 18.2-95, -96, -111, -112 (2020).)

An Important Note on Local Legal Representation

If you have been charged with larceny or an embezzlement-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. A local criminal defense attorney can tell you how strong the case against you appears to be and how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

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