It’s said that justice is blind – but is that really true? We can all cite examples of wealthy, well-connected individuals getting a slap on the wrist for the same crimes that others are serving hard time.
That principle can also be flipped, as those holding public office and ostensibly serving the public face higher penalties for embezzlement than a sales clerk who siphons cash from the register or an accountant accused of cooking their employer’s books.
Why are the penalties different?
They differ because elected and appointed officials are theoretically supposed to be held to higher standards since their actions have the potential to affect public trust and their constituents’ best interests.
At its center, embezzlement is theft. It differs from crimes like shoplifting or burglary in that the person accused of stealing was an employee of the business. It also involves an abuse of trust and often, fraud.
How do white-collar crimes like embezzlement end?
Depending on the circumstances of an arrest, your defense could be that you made a mistake. People get mathematical calculations wrong all the time, even when using computers. All it takes is a transposed number to change the bottom line.
There could be other defenses as well. Perhaps your employer verbally agreed to pay you an extra $100 per pay period, but only in cash (for their own tax purposes). If your relationship goes south with your boss, you could wind up charged with embezzlement for taking the cash.
If you suspect that you might be arrested, remember to preserve your legal rights under the Constitution before speaking with the police.