Embezzlement is a white collar crime, which can be punishable in Illinois by lengthy prison sentences, fines, and restitution. In some cases it can also be prosecuted under federal law. Embezzlement occurs when a person entrusted with another's property uses it for personal gain. This differs from regular theft or larceny which can be committed by anyone regardless of their position.
Embezzlement is most common in an employment setting where employees are often entrusted with company property such as cash registers or merchandise. Embezzlement can also be much more elaborate as when a stockbroker skims millions of dollars from a client's account. The common element in these situations is that the embezzler has been entrusted to handle another's assets or property.
Property Types: Tangible or Intangible
Embezzlement can involve tangible or intangible property. Tangible property usually refers to material items, such as office supplies, jewelry, pieces of equipment, or company cars. Intangible items might be stocks, bonds, fraudulent billing schemes, or even money.
Defining Embezzlement under Illinois Law
In Illinois, embezzlement charges are often brought under the general theft statute. A person knowingly commits theft/embezzlement when:
- There is a fiduciary relationship between the embezzler and the victim;
- The embezzler acquires property (tangible or intangible) through the relationship;
- The embezzler takes ownership of the property or transfers the property to someone else for their own personal gain;
- The embezzler's actions are intentional and not accidental.
Illinois Embezzlement Laws: An Overview
The following table highlights the main provisions of Illinois's embezzlement laws.
Illinois Statutes Section 5/16-1
|Type of Crime
Felony or Misdemeanor - varies on value or type of property.
|Penalties and Sentences
Under $500 Not From Person: This is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by less than 1 year in prison and fines of up to $2,500. If it was committed in a school or place of worship, if it involved government property, or if the defendant has prior theft convictions, it's a Class 4 Felony punishable by 1-3 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Under $500 From A Person or Between $500 - $1,000: This is a Class 3 Felony punishable by 2-5 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. If it was committed in a school or place of worship or involved government property, it's a Class 2 Felony punishable by 3-7 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Between $10,000 - $100,000: This is a Class 2 Felony punishable as described above. If it was committed in a school or place of worship or involved government property, it's a Class 1 Felony punishable by 4-15 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Between $100,000 - $500,000: This is a Class 1 Felony punishable as described above. If it was committed in a school or place of worship or involved government property, it's a Class X Felony punishable by 6-30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Between $500,000 - $1 Million: This is a Class 1 non-probationable felony punishable as described above.
Over $1 Million: This is a Class X Felony punishable as described above.
Theft by Deception Of At Least $5,000 From Victim Age 60 Or Older: This is a Class 2 Felony punishable as described above.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Illinois Embezzlement Laws: Related Resources
Get Legal Help with Your Embezzlement Case in Illinois
Taking responsibility for another person's property is always rife with risk even if you have the best of intentions. If you've been accused of embezzlement, the outcome will ultimately depend on the evidence and, perhaps more importantly, whether you're represented by an experienced attorney. For this reason, it's a good idea to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Illinois if you're facing charges of embezzlement.