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What Is The Difference Between Embezzlement And Theft?


Are you or a loved one facing allegations that you improperly took funds or assets from an employer or another party with whom you were in a position of trust? If so, you could be concerned about facing an embezzlement crime. In Florida, embezzlement is not its own unique offense—instead these are theft cases. Still, a conviction can carry very serious penalties. Here, our Orlando white collar criminal defense lawyer highlights the key points to understand about the difference—or lack thereof—beyond embezzlement and theft in Florida.

Embezzlement: Defined

The Department of Justice (DOJ) defines embezzlement as “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted.” In other words, embezzlement is the misuse of money, property, or assets for personal gain in a scenario where a position of trust was abused. It could be an employee taking money from an employer or taking advantage of a fiduciary relationship. Embezzlement can occur in a wide range of different contexts, including corporate settings, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. 

Florida Does Not Have a Specific Embezzlement Statute (Theft Charge) 

There is no embezzlement statute in Florida. Some other states do have a specific embezzlement law. Further, there is a federal criminal embezzlement statute that could come into play if a person in Florida is alleged to have abused a position of trust to take money from a federal agency. However, embezzlement cases in Florida law generally fall under the state’s theft laws (Florida Statute § 812.014)). From a technical legal perspective, there is generally no material difference between an embezzlement charge and another type of theft charge in Florida. 

An Overview of Penalties for Theft in Florida 

Of course, embezzlement—of any variety—is still a very serious crime in Florida. The penalties will depend, largely, based on the amount in question. Here is an overview:

  • Misdemeanor Theft: If property is valued at more than $100 but less than $750, it is generally a first degree misdemeanor theft case. The maximum penalty is one year in jail.
  • Third-Degree Felony Theft: If property is valued at more than $750 but less than $20,000, it is generally a third degree felony theft case. The maximum penalty is five years in prison.
  • Second-Degree Felony Theft: If property is valued at more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, it is generally a second degree felony theft case. The maximum penalty is fifteen years in prison.
  • First-Degree Felony Theft: If property is valued at more than $100,000, it is generally a first degree felony theft case. The maximum penalty is thirty years in prison. 

Get Help From Our Embezzlement Defense Lawyer in Orlando, FL Today

At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando embezzlement defense attorney has the experience you can trust. If you or your loved one was accused of embezzlement, we are here to help. Contact our criminal defense firm today to set up your confidential consultation. With an office in Orlando, we defend embezzlement charges in Orange County and throughout Central Florida.



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