We Have the Experience You Need to Fight Your Embezzlement Charges.
If you have been charged with embezzlement or breach of trust in South Carolina, or if you believe you are under investigation for embezzlement or breach of trust, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side immediately.
You may have defenses to the charges, you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program, or you may have other options that would allow us to get your case dismissed before trial.
The attorneys at the Seaton Law Office will investigate your case, work to get your charges dismissed before trial, prepare your case for trial, and keep your record clean whenever possible.
Understanding Criminal Charges Related to Embezzlement
Embezzlement of Public Funds
Embezzlement of public funds in South Carolina is when a person who is entrusted with the safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public funds instead takes those funds and converts them to their own use.
In most cases, it will be some type of public official who is charged with embezzlement of public funds.
Penalties for Embezzlement
Embezzlement of public funds is a felony in South Carolina, and it is punishable by:
- A fine proportionate to the amount of the embezzlement and up to ten years in prison if the amount of embezzled funds was $10,000 or more, or
- A fine proportionate to the amount of the embezzlement and up to five years in prison if the amount of embezzled funds was less than $10,000.
Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent
When the embezzled funds are not public funds, a person can still be charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent.
The state must prove that you:
- Were in a fiduciary, or trust, relationship with the alleged victim,
- Took money or property that was entrusted to you and converted it to your own use, and
- Had a fraudulent intent when you took the funds.
Penalties for Breach of Trust
Breach of trust with fraudulent intent is:
- A misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail if the amount is $2000 or less,
- A felony punishable by up to five years in prison if the amount is more than $2000 but less than $10,000, or
- A felony punishable by up to ten years in prison if the amount is $10,000 or more.
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Four (4) Steps To Take If You’ve Been Arrested For Embezzlement in South Carolina
1. Contact an Attorney
Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. If you contact your attorney before you are charged, you may be able to avoid criminal charges. If you are charged, your attorney can help you to get out of jail on bond, communicate with law enforcement on your behalf, investigate your case, and work on getting your case dismissed or preparing your case for trial.
2. Do Not Talk to Police
Law enforcement will often attempt to interview you before making an arrest in an embezzlement case. There are two possible reasons they want to talk to you: 1) they have enough evidence to charge you but they want you to make statements that will make a conviction easier for them, or 2) they don’t have enough evidence to charge you and they want you to make statements that will give them the probable cause they need. Call your attorney before agreeing to speak with the police.
3. Do Not Talk to Friends or Family
Do not discuss your case with friends, family, your employer, investigators, police, or anyone. Anything that you say to anyone about your case can be used against you. Do not post about your case on social media or send messages about your charges, and let your attorney speak to law enforcement on your behalf.
4. Do Not Lose Hope
No matter how bad your case seems, you may have defenses you are unaware of, and your attorney may be able to get your case dismissed, get you into a diversion program, or win your case at trial. Do not despair, do not discuss your charges with anyone except your attorney, and get an experienced embezzlement defense lawyer on your side immediately.
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Common Questions About
Embezzlement Charges in South Carolina
Is embezzlement a felony?
Embezzlement of public funds is always a felony offense, and the potential penalties increase based on the dollar amount of the funds that were allegedly taken.
Breach of trust with fraudulent intent can be a misdemeanor if the dollar amount is $2,000 or less, but, when the dollar amount is greater than $2,000, it is a felony offense.
Is embezzlement a “white collar crime?”
Embezzlement or breach of trust with fraudulent intent is considered a “white collar crime.”
It is called a “white collar crime” because it is a type of fraud often committed by business or government officials.
Can embezzlement charges be dropped?
Embezzlement charges or breach of trust charges can be dismissed before you get to trial for a number of reasons including:
- Referral to a pretrial diversion program like PTI,
- A lack of evidence,
- Your attorney’s investigation proves your innocence,
- Restitution has been paid and the alleged victim does not want to prosecute, or
- Any number of other reasons in the interest of Justice.