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What Is the Punishment for Embezzlement in Washington?

Embezzlement is a type of theft in Washington, and it carries the same possible punishments as theft. The offense can get charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, with varying degrees. Each charge has different possible penalties.

If you got accused of embezzlement or charged with theft, a Washington white-collar crimes attorney could protect your legal rights and help defend you from the charges. Let’s address the question, what is the punishment for embezzlement in Washington? 

Gross Misdemeanor – Third-Degree Theft

If the items or assets a person embezzles have a value of less than $750, they can get charged with theft in the third degree, which is a gross misdemeanor. The sentence could be a fine of up to $5,000. Also, the judge could sentence the offender to as much as a year in the county jail. It is possible for a sentence to include a fine and jail time.

For example, a person convicted of embezzling $500 of electronic equipment they were supposed to repair and return to the owner could have to pay a fine of as much as 10 times the value of what they took.

Class C Felony – Second-Degree Theft

If the value of what got embezzled was more than $750 but less than $5,000, the charge could be theft in the second degree, which is a class C felony. Getting convicted of a felony carries its own set of negative consequences, in addition to the possibility of going to state prison for as long as five years. The potential fine for the charge of second-degree theft can go up to a maximum of $10,000. As with other theft convictions, the offender could get sentenced to incarceration or a fine, or both.

Let’s say that a person had a financial emergency and wrote a check for $1,000 from the company’s checking account. That one check could cause them to lose five years of freedom and owe $10,000 in fines.

Class B Felony – First-Degree Theft

This Class B felony charge involves the theft of more than $5,000 worth of assets or property. In addition to the standard impacts of a felony conviction, the offender could get sentenced to up to 10 years in state prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both. 

A large corporation required an employee to do a great deal of travel on company business. One day, the worker submitted fraudulent travel expense forms in the amount of $7,000. The employee said they attended a business conference, but they actually took their family on vacation. The business conference was fictitious. The $7,000 family trip could send the worker away to prison for a decade with a fine of up to $20,000.

Factors Used in Sentencing

Theft convictions come with a range of possible sentencing, so how does the judge decide to let one person have the low end of potential penalties but throw the book at someone else? One of the tools judges use is the defendant’s offender score, which can include the individual’s criminal history, other current offenses, and other factors. 

A Washington criminal defense attorney can work tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome in your situation. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.

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.