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North Carolina Embezzlement Laws

The amount of funds that can be accumulated during a long-term embezzlement scam can be startling. The latest news feeds often contain stories about how a public official or an employee has taken vast amounts of money from the government or a corporation for their own personal use. But embezzlement doesn't have to operate on such a grand scale; it can involve smaller amounts of money and can really impact small businesses. The key elements of this crime involve an individual who has possession of property due to their role or position, who breaches this trust by using the property for their own purposes.

North Carolina's embezzlement statute prohibits various groups of people (administrators, agents, trustees, clerks, trustees, among others) from taking or converting other people's money or property. It's a class H felony, unless the value of the property involved is $100,000 or more; in that case, it is a class C felony, which is punished more severely.

North Carolina Embezzlement Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to North Carolina's embezzlement laws, including links to important code sections.


  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-90 (Embezzlement of property received by virtue of office or employment)

Applies to any person exercising a public trust or holding a public office, or who is a guardian, administrator, executor, trustee, or other fiduciary.

Penalties and Sentencing

North Carolina uses a complex sentencing formula; the actual sentence will depend on factors such as prior criminal history and the value of the embezzled property.

  • If the value of the property is $100,000 or more, the person is guilty of a Class C felony. If the value of the property is less than $100,000, then the person is guilty of a Class H felony.
  • A class C felony is punishable by a presumptive term of 58-73 months of incarceration.
  • A class H felony is punishable by a presumptive term of 5- 6 months of incarceration for first-time offenders, longer for those with a criminal record.
  • Restitution may also be paid to the victims.

Possible Defenses

  • Lack of intent
  • Duress
  • Entrapment

Related Offenses

  • Larceny by employee: North Carolina General Statutes 14-74
  • Identity theft: North Carolina General Statutes 14-113.20
  • Forgery of notes, check, and other securities: North Carolina General Statutes 14-119

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.

North Carolina Embezzlement Laws: Related Resources

Learn about Your Embezzlement Case from an Attorney

Embezzlement is a complex crime where the charges can vary greatly; specific circumstances can trigger federal charges such as if you embezzled from a bank. Given the uncertainty of the charges that you may face, you probably don't want to take any chances on your future. Get information relevant to your case by contacting a local attorney.

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