Embezzlement in Virginia

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by | March 20, 2024

What is Embezzlement in Virginia?

Embezzlement in Virginia is the theft, misuse, or fraudulent use of money or property from an employer, organization, or other entity or individual.  See Virginia Code § 18.2-111:

If any person wrongfully and fraudulently use, dispose of, conceal or embezzle any money, bill, note, check, order, draft, bond, receipt, bill of lading or any other personal property, tangible or intangible, which he shall have received for another or for his employer, principal or bailor, or by virtue of his office, trust, or employment, or which shall have been entrusted or delivered to him by another or by any court, corporation or company, he shall be guilty of embezzlement.

Unlike larceny or robbery, which may involve taking money from a stranger, embezzlement involves the use or misuse of money or property that lawfully came into an individual’s possession by virtue of their employment or position.

A common example of embezzlement is an employee who lawfully accepts money from customers on behalf of the employer. That employee is initially lawfully in possession of these funds. But once the employee misuses the employer’s funds for an impermissible personal use or otherwise conceals or misuses the employer’s funds, then the employee has committed the crime of embezzlement.

Is Embezzlement a Criminal or Civil Matter in Virginia?

Embezzlement in Virginia is a criminal offense: This means that a detective or federal agent may investigate the offense and refer it to a federal or state prosecutor to prosecute the criminal matter. It may be a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on the dollar amount of the loss.

In the criminal justice process, the victim will be involved and have a say in the process and outcome, but the investigative agency and the prosecuting attorney’s office are the lead and ultimate decision maker in the case. This may or may not be helpful to the victim depending on the specific facts and the specific jurisdiction.

Embezzlement in Virginia is also a civil cause of action: This means that a party who has been the victim of embezzlement may pursue the claim through a civil lawsuit rather than through the criminal justice process. For example, a business that has lost money due to embezzlement may choose to internally investigate the matter and then pursue the claim through the civil court process.

There are pros and cons to pursuing a claim through the criminal justice system and the civil justice process; likewise, the processes are not mutually exclusive and they are often pursued in tandem. Regardless of which path you are facing (whether as a victim or a defendant), it is important to consider all of the options at the outset to make sound strategic decisions.

Our office handles embezzlement from both distinct client perspectives. First, our Virginia criminal defense practice represents individuals charged with criminal embezzlement as a misdemeanor or felony offense.  We vigorously investigate and fight on behalf of our clients to ensure that their rights are protected.

Second, our Corporate Practice Group represents businesses that may suspect that an employee, contractor, or other individual is embezzling funds or property from the business.  Representation may involve an internal business investigation on behalf of the business or representation through criminal and civil litigation in an effort to recoup lost funds.

Consult with Our Experienced Embezzlement Attorneys

Whether you are a criminal defense client or Virginia business in need of a representation regarding embezzlement, contact the office today to schedule a consultation.