Embezzlement is a property crime under the state laws of Connecticut. The crime refers to the unlawful retention of property that was entrusted to the defendant. State law distinguishes embezzlement from larceny or theft by requiring a fiduciary relationship between the defendant and the victim.
In a fiduciary relationship, the party entrusted with money or property has specified duties. Parties with fiduciary duties include trustees, agents, corporate officers, and public officers. Embezzlement reflects a defendant's betrayal of those duties.
Example of Embezzlement
A prime example of larceny by embezzlement may be found in the entrustment of funds to persons having a fiduciary obligation, such as officers or directors of a corporation, or a bailee, agent, or trustee, by the owner of the funds. Conversion by such officer, director, bailee, agent, or trustee of the customers' funds for his or her own private use or purpose may result in an embezzlement conviction. However, misuse of the funds for a constructive trust - or the failure to create a promised trust - does not alone constitute embezzlement.
Punishment for embezzlement varies based on the circumstances of a particular case and may include fines or a jail or prison sentence. Some factors that impact a defendant’s sentence include the exact crime charged, the defendant’s previous criminal history, and whether a minor was involved in the sexual activity. More specifically, punishment for embezzlement involves the following:
- Class C misdemeanor: The value of the property is $500 or less. Penalties include a fine of $500, up to three months in jail, or both.
- Class B misdemeanor: The value of the property is $500 or more, but less than $1,000. Penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both.
- Class A misdemeanor: The value of the property is $1,000 or more, but less than $2,000. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
- Class D felony: The value of the property is more than $2,000 but less than $10,000; the property is a vehicle worth $10,000 or less; the property is a public record; or the property is biological sample, culture, microorganism, or records a scientific secret, technical process, or invention. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, between one and five years in prison, or both.
- Class C felony: The value of the property is more than $10,000 but less than $20,000; the property is a vehicle worth more than $10,000; the defendant embezzled public property or money worth $2,000 or less; the victim was age 60 or older, or was blind or physically disabled; or the property was owned by a telecommunications service, and the theft interrupted emergency telecommunications services. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, between one and ten years in prison, or both.
- Class B felony: The value of the property is more than $20,000; the property is a vehicle worth more than $20,000; or the defendant embezzled public property or money worth more than $2,000. Penalties include a fine of up to $15,000, between one and 20 years in prison, or both.
The following table lists the main provisions of Connecticut’s embezzlement laws, while additional background information follows. See FindLaw's Fraud and Financial Crimes section for more information.
||Larceny by Embezzlement -- § 53a-119 (1) and §§ 53a-122 through 53a-125b
|Degrees of Embezzlement
||First degree: exceeded $20,000.
Second degree: exceeded $10,000.
Third degree: exceeded $2,000.
Fourth degree: exceeded $1,000.
Fifth degree: exceeded $500.
Sixth degree: did not exceed $500.
|Defenses to Embezzlement Charges
Claim of good faith: The defendant openly took the property with a good faith belief of title. However, this defense likely does not apply if the defendant kept the property of another as compensation for debts owed to the defendant.
Claim of authority: The defendant can show that the property was properly taken during the scope of duties through a power-of-attorney or trust instrument, or through another arrangement requiring the acts of an agent.
No demand: While a demand is not explicitly required by law as an element of the crime, the owner of the property should make a demand or written request for the return of the property. The defendant's refusal, if any, may reflect the defendant's criminal intent. If the owner does not make a demand, the defendant may be able to offer a defense of neglect or another non-criminal reason for the lack of return.
Note: State criminal laws are constantly changing -- contact a Connecticut criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Connecticut Embezzlement Laws: Related Resources