What's the Difference Between Embezzlement and False Pretense
There are several different types of property theft in North Carolina. Determining what type of charge is most appropriate depends heavily on facts and circumstances of the case.
Two of the more common types of property theft are Embezzlement and Obtaining Property by False Pretenses. Although these two offenses seem similar, there are key differences.
Before explaining the differences, it is important to understand the elements of each offense.
- Embezzlement occurs when a person, who is entrusted with the responsibility of managing someone else’s money or property, takes or steals that money or property for their own personal use.
- Obtaining Property by False Pretenses occurs when a person makes a false representation to another person in order to obtain (or attempt to obtain) something of value.
Both offenses are felonies in North Carolina. The felony sentencing level, for both charges, depends on the value of the stolen property. Specifically, if the value of the stolen property is less than $100,000, it is a class H felony. If the value of the stolen property is $100,000 or more, it is a class C felony.
In addition to other sentencing conditions, defendants convicted of Embezzlement or Obtaining Property by False Pretenses are typically required to pay back the value of property obtained.What are the Differences Between the Charges?
One difference is that in Embezzlement, the person is in lawful possession of the property at one point. Typically, we see this type of offense occur during the course of employment. For Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, the person never has lawful possession of the property.
Another difference is that in Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, a person must make a false representation. The false representation can be regarding a fact or can be a false promise regarding a future fulfillment.
Put simply, in Embezzlement, the property was obtained by lawful means, and then converted unlawfully for personal use. In Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, the property was unlawfully obtained through false representations.
Lawful possession means that the person had permission from the true owner to manage the property. For example, a bank teller has permission from the bank to manage the bank’s money. However, if the bank teller takes that money for their own personal use, they can be charged with Embezzlement.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, it is possible to be charged with both offenses. It is important to seek legal counsel to discuss whether the facts of your case support a charge of Embezzlement or Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, and the most appropriate legal defense.What are Legal Fees for Embezzlement or Obtaining Property by False Pretenses?
Legal fees depend on a variety of factors. In fact, whether you are charged a retainer fee or legal fees can depend on the facts of your case.
A retainer fee is a fee that is paid in order to reserve the services of legal counsel. A legal fee is, typically, a one-time flat fee paid for the legal representation in a case.
It is important to discuss legal fee options when seeking legal counsel.What Happens if my Charges are Dismissed?
Although you may not have been convicted of Embezzlement or Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, it is important to note that the charge(s) may still show up on a criminal background check.
In order to have criminal charges completely removed from your record, you must petition the court for an expungement. An expungement is a legal document signed off by a judge ordering the removal of information regarding the charge and arrest from court records.What Should I Do if I’ve been Charged with Embezzlement or Obtaining Property by False Pretenses?
Please speak with legal counsel, experienced in handling criminal cases, without delay. The attorneys at Powers Law Firm help people with a wide range of different legal matters in both North Carolina and South Carolina, including DWIs, misdemeanors, felonies, traffic violations, and expungements.
Attorney Bill Powers is licensed only in North Carolina. Attorney Chris Beddow is licensed in both South Carolina and North Carolina.
If you have been charged with Embezzlement or Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, we would be happy to speak with you about your case. For criminal cases, we offer completely free and confidential consultations.