Pennsylvania Embezzlement Laws
Pennsylvania state laws consolidate a number of criminal offenses that all qualify as thefts. Embezzlement is one of the activities that the state may prosecute as a theft. In general, an individual commits theft by taking or withholding another person’s property without the owner’s consent.
The prosecutor must usually prove that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property. State law defines “deprive” as any activity that reduces the value of the property completely or substantially, or any activity that significantly reduces the likelihood of the owner recovering the property.
To prove embezzlement, a prosecutor must show that the defendant obtained the victim’s property through an agreement or as part of the defendant’s fiduciary duties. In most cases, the victim has entrusted the property to the defendant for a specific purpose.
For example, a victim of embezzlement may have entrusted money to the defendant for the purpose of investment or financial management. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant intentionally failed to perform the agreed-upon services or acts and treated the entrusted property as his or her own property.
Pennsylvania law establishes one range of penalties and sentences for all theft offenses prosecuted by the state. The potential sentence for each offense often depends on the value of the property or the type of property involved with the theft. For example, theft of property valued at $2,000 or more usually becomes a third degree felony, for which state law allows a sentence of imprisonment for up to seven years.
Embezzlement of lesser-valued property may result in misdemeanor charges. The state can charge a theft of property valued at less than $50, between $50 and $200, and between $200 and $2,000, as a third degree misdemeanor, second degree misdemeanor, and first degree misdemeanor, respectively. The potential maximum sentence ranges from one to five years of imprisonment; the specific sentence depends on the type of offense charged by the state and any defenses.