When a person falls on hard times, it may be tempting to take from your employer. Doing so will cause more headaches than it will solve and something that began as “a small loan” in the employee’s mind could result in harsh criminal charges. If you or someone you know has been charged with theft by an employee and have found themselves needing a second, talk to an experienced defense attorney for help.
Call Skinner Law Firm to learn more about how to handle employee theft charges. Our offices are located in Southeast Pennsylvania in West Chester, PA. Attorney Michael J. Skinner represents clients accused of misdemeanor and felony theft offenses throughout the Boroughs of Norristown in Montgomery County, Media in Delaware County, West Chester in Chester County, and Lancaster in Lancaster County.
Theft by an employee falls under Pennsylvania’s general theft statute. The value of the property determines the penalty for employee theft. Theft by an employee still has different implications –especially if the defendant was a government employee, employed by a financial institution, or a fiduciary.
One way the State of Pennsylvania has defined employee theft is by the unlawful taking or disposition of property. The language of the statute suggests a situation where the theft is done internally.
In order to convict an employee of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following:
Movable Property is defined as property, which can change location (this includes things that are growing, found, or affixed to land). Immovable Property is defined as property that cannot change location regardless of the defendant’s efforts.
The prosecution must prove the same elements for immovable property and movable property.
Failing to make a required disposition is another phrase for embezzlement. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, embezzlement is defined as the “fraudulent taking of personal property with which one has been entrusted (esp. as a fiduciary).”
Under § 3927, theft by failure to make a required disposition of funds received occurs when a person obtains property upon agreement, or subject to a known legal obligation to make specified payments, whether from such property or the proceeds of the alleged property, intentionally fails to make a required payment or disposition and he or she deals with the property as his or her own, then he or she is guilty of failing to make a disposition required by law.
It is not necessary that the particular property belongs to the victim at the time of the violation.
“Obtained” is defined as bringing about a transfer or purported transfer of a legal interest in the property, whether to himself or another person.
“Property” is defined as anything of value, including real estate, tangible, and intangible personal property.
When the defendant is a government employee, the statute allows for a few rebuttable presumptions. The elements of both crimes are the same, however, when finding a government employee or financial institution officer guilty of internal theft, the statute presumes that the employee knew of his or her legal obligation to deposit the property to its owner.
If the defendant was a financial institution officer or government employee then, the jury is permitted, without further evidence, to find that the defendant knew of any legal obligation relevant to his or her criminal liability for theft.
The defendant dealt with the property has his or her own if the jury finds that he or she failed to pay or account upon lawful demand, an audit revealed a shortage or falsification of accounts.
The penalties for employee theft in Pennsylvania are charged based on the value of the property at the time the defendant stole the property. The crime may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
When the property stolen is valued at $2,000, the theft charge is a third-degree felony. Stealing an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, etc…, may also result in a third-degree felony charge. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to seven (7) years in prison and up to $15,000 fines.
When the property stolen is valued between $100k and $500k, or if the defendant steals a firearm or anhydrous ammonia, then he or she is charged with a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to ten (10) years in prison and up to $25,000 fines.
When the property stolen is valued at $500k or more, the charge is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to twenty (20) years in prison and up to $25,000 fines.
When the property stolen is valued between $200 and $2,000 the charge is a first-degree misdemeanor. First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.
When property stolen is valued between $50 and $200 then the charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to two (2) years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.
When the property stolen is valued less than $50 the charge is a third-degree misdemeanor. Third-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to one (1) year in prison and $2,000 fines.
Theft under Chapter 39 – Visit the PA General Assembly –the official website of the Pennsylvania Legislature for the full language of the theft statutes that make up theft by an employee. The code provides the different definitions of employee theft and other theft offenses.
Talk to an attorney about the failure to make a disposition required by law. Learning how the prosecution handles these charges from an experienced criminal defense attorney can help prepare you for your fight for your rights.
Attorney Michael J. Skinner represents clients accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout the Boroughs of West Chester in Chester County and Lancaster in Lancaster County.