What are the Penalties for Embezzlement in Washington?

Embezzlement is a type of theft in Washington state. Although embezzlement is not like a simple purse snatching, they both fall under the same category, so they can have similar penalties, depending on the degree of the offense. Taking someone else’s property, whether by the use of physical force or exerting unauthorized means to appropriate the item or use it for yourself, is theft.

Under our state’s criminal code, theft can be a gross misdemeanor, a class B felony, or a class C felony, depending on the dollar value of the theft. A Washington criminal defense attorney can advocate for you and work hard to get you the best possible outcome in your situation. Let’s answer the question of what are the penalties for embezzlement in Washington. 

An Overview of Embezzlement

Taking someone else’s money at a bank could be embezzlement or some other type of theft. Let’s say that a bank clerk slips a few dollars from each cash deposit into the drawer and takes it home at the end of his shift. That situation would be embezzlement. On the other hand, if someone lifts someone else’s wallet while in line at the bank, that would be a different kind of theft.

Penalties for a Conviction of Theft

RCW 9A.56.30, RCW 9A.56.40, and RCW 9A.56.50 of the Washington state laws contain the penalties for the three different degrees of theft in our state.

  1. First-degree theft. A conviction of first-degree theft under RCW 9A.56.030 is a class B felony. This category is for theft of property with a value of more than $5,000. The penalties include imprisonment in a state facility for no more than 10 years. A person could receive a fine of as much as $20,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. 
  2. Second-degree theft. RCW 9A.56.040 says that a person convicted of second-degree theft has committed a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state facility for no more than five years and a fine of up to $10,000. It is possible to get sentenced to only imprisonment or only a fine, or both. Second-degree theft is for property between the value of $750 and $5,000. 
  3. Third-degree theft. This conviction is a gross misdemeanor under RCW 9A.56.050. A person convicted of stealing property worth less than $750 can get punished by up to one year of confinement in county jail. This offense can come with a fine of no more than $5,000. A person could get a sentence of both confinement and a fine.

Sometimes, people fall into the trap of embezzlement due to unfortunate or even tragic circumstances, like medical bills or falling behind on rent or mortgage payments. In these situations, people do not intend to keep the money indefinitely, but rather, fully intend to pay back the money when they can.

Unfortunately, a criminal record does not include explanations of what led up to committing the offense. Having a criminal record can destroy your career and your reputation. It could be nearly impossible ever to work in your current field again. The best way to avoid these unpleasant consequences is to avoid getting the conviction in the first place. The first step in trying to avoid a criminal record is to talk to a Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you are being investigated, arrested for, or have been charged with embezzlement. For legal help get in touch with our office today.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.