18 U.S. Code § 641 - Federal Crime of Embezzlement

The federal crime of embezzlement is generally defined as theft or larceny of assets, money, or property by somebody in a position of trust or responsibility over the assets. Typically, embezzlement is committed by an employee in the employment or corporate setting.

18 U.S. Code § 641 - Federal Crime of Embezzlement

18 U.S.C. 641 Public money, property or records says, “Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract… or Whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted… shall be fined and imprisoned.”

Embezzlement is stealing from your employer and is referred to as “employee theft.” This white-collar crime is committed by an employee with enough knowledge of the company that they can exploit their knowledge for unlawful financial gain.

If you are convicted of embezzlement, you will face fines and imprisonment for up to ten years. However, if the value of the property embezzled does not exceed $1,000, the punishment is reduced to fines or up to one year in prison. Let's review this federal law further below.

What Are the Related Federal Laws?

18 U.S. Code Chapter 31 embezzlement and theft has numerous federal statutes that are related to 18 U.S.C. 641, including the following:

  • 18 U.S.C. 642 - Tools and materials for counterfeiting;
  • 18 U.S.C. 643 - Accounting generally for public money;
  • 18 U.S.C. 644 - Banker receiving unauthorized deposit;
  • 18 U.S.C. 645 - Court officers generally;
  • 18 U.S.C. 646 - Court officers depositing moneys;
  • 18 U.S.C. 647 - Receiving a loan from a court officer;
  • 18 U.S.C. 648 - Custodians misusing public funds;
  • 18 U.S.C. 649 - Custodians failing to deposit money;
  • 18 U.S.C. 650 - Failing to safeguard deposits;
  • 18 U.S.C. 651 - Falsely certifying full payment;
  • 18 U.S.C. 652 - Paying lesser instead of lawful amount;
  • 18 U.S.C. 653 - Officer misusing public funds;
  • 18 U.S.C. 654 - Officer converting property of another;
  • 18 U.S.C. 655 - Theft by bank examiner;
  • 18 U.S.C. 656 - Theft by bank officer or employee;
  • 18 U.S.C. 657 - Lending, credit, and insurance institutions;
  • 18 U.S.C. 658 - Property mortgaged to farm credit agencies;
  • 18 U.S.C. 659 - Interstate or foreign shipments by a carrier;
  • 18 U.S.C. 660 - Carrier's funds derived from commerce;
  • 18 U.S.C. 661 - Special maritime and territorial jurisdiction;
  • 18 U.S.C. 662 - Receiving stolen property;
  • 18 U.S.C. 663 - Solicitation or use of gifts;
  • 18 U.S.C. 664 - Theft from employee benefit plan;
  • 18 U.S.C. 665 - Theft from employment and training funds;
  • 18 U.S.C. 666 - Theft concerning programs receiving funds;
  • 18 U.S.C. 667 - Theft of livestock;
  • 18 U.S.C. 668 - Theft of major artwork;
  • 18 U.S.C. 669 - Theft in connection with health care;
  • 18 U.S.C. 670 - Theft of medical products.

What Are the Defenses for 18 U.S.C. 641?

I've been defending people charged with embezzlement at the federal level now for 30 years.  These are very serious crimes, and you're facing a significant amount of time in federal prison, which would be served at 85%.

So, I thought it might be a good idea to give you some background and talk about some of the strategies that can be employed in a federal embezzlement case from the defense standpoint.

First, you must understand how things work, what the charges will be and what you'll be facing, and how they're adding additional federal prison time to your sentence based on whatever it is that you did.  So, first:

  • there's going to be a base offense level for whatever crime you're charged with regarding embezzlement, and
  • then there might be other enhancements that apply to you.

For example, if you took over a million dollars, a particular enhancement will add levels to your sentence.  As levels are added to a federal sentence, you face more time in federal prison. 

Of course, the judge is going to use the federal sentencing guidelines, in the end, to help them determine what their sentence is going to be. 

The higher your criminal history, the higher your sentence will be, and the higher your levels as far as criminal conduct goes will also determine your sentence. 

You could also use sophisticated means to accomplish your embezzlement.  As an employee of a company or business, you sit in a position of trust, and that's why these embezzlement charges are treated very harshly at times because judges and prosecutors realize that you're taking advantage of your employer.

Also, many times, especially at the federal level, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being taken from employers, hurting the economy. It also hurts the American backbone as well as the workforce. 

Paying the Embezzled Money Back

Some strategy, I would say first and foremost, if you want to be straightforward and simplistic about it is to figure out how to pay the money back.

Federal Embezzlement Defense Attorney

If you can pay the money back, that usually puts you in a much better position regarding federal sentencing.  If you can pay back some of the money, that would also help. 

In the end, you'll ultimately be ordered to pay restitution in the case, so you're paying the money one way or another. 

You'll either pay it slowly over many years, or if you can come up with it up front, not only would you not have to pay it in the future, but you'd also be able to use that ability to pay the money to help lessen your sentence significantly.

Prosecutors feel it's their job to get the victim paid back in these embezzlement cases. 

So, you'd make them look like a hero because they get the money back, then they're going to reward you in kind in how they charge the case and what they argue to the judge.

However, ultimately, the judge will decide what your sentence will be. Still, even judges are swayed significantly when money is paid back, so that's one big thing you want to consider.

Criminal Record and Family Circumstances

Also, we've got to look at your criminal record.  You can earn money if you have no criminal record; the judge will probably consider that in passing your sentence.

Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

They want you; even though you can't pay back up front, they know that over time you will be ordered to pay the money back. 

If you can make money, that would certainly be something they would consider. They'll also look at your family circumstances, such as do you have kids?

There are also a host of other factors that will apply to you. That's why we have you come in.  We sit down; we go over everything. 

We talk about you, your life, what happened, why it happened, and what we will do moving forward in the case. So, if you need the best federal criminal defense regarding an embezzlement charge, pick up the phone now. 

Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I have various backgrounds, having worked for a prosecuting agency in my career. So, I've got a lot of experience.  I know how to handle these cases to bring you the best possible result.

We provide legal representation on federal criminal matters across the United States. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.