Punishment for Embezzlement


Punishment for embezzlement varies from state to state depending on the gravity of the offense. Certain statutes determine the gravity of the offense in accordance with the value of the embezzled property.

As for any other offense, the punishment will be in conformity with the constitutional provisions.  It is a principle of justice that punishment for an offense should be proportional to the offense[i].  To award costs and expenses that were unrelated to prosecution of the crimes is beyond a court’s discretion[ii].  Also, liability for costs exist only if the statute provides for them[iii].

While imposing a sentence, the duration of imprisonment or value of the fine will be determined based on various factors.  The value of the embezzled property is one factor.  Other factors that would be taken into account are a defendant’s previous criminal conduct if any, the age and nature of the defendant, the need to prevent such crimes in the future, and the duration of the period of embezzlement.

A sentencing has to be reasonable to the extent that it must be necessary to accomplish the objective of protecting the public.  It should also help in attaining the goals of deterrence, rehabilitation, and retribution.  A sentence of confinement longer than necessary is unreasonable[iv].

In the case of a composite sentence, a defendant should not be given punishment exceeding the maximum term for the defendant’s most serious offense.  Otherwise a sentencing judge will have to be convinced that such a sentence is required to protect the public.  An appellate court may not affirm a sentence if it is apparently mistaken[v].  An appellate court has to conduct an independent review of the case record, check the nature of an offense and the character of an offender in order to find whether a sentence is reasonable.  The burden is on a defendant to prove that the sentencing is excessive and unreasonable[vi].

On appeal by a state against regarding a too lenient sentence, a reviewing court will not increase the sentence but will only express its approval or disapproval.  Lengthy sentences may be granted where first offenders have committed substantial crimes[vii].

[i] State v. Thorp, 166 Ore. App. 564 (Or. Ct. App. 2000)

[ii] State v. Lopez, 36 Kan. App. 2d 723 (Kan. Ct. App. 2006)

[iii] Bernard v. State, 652 P.2d 982 (Wyo. 1982)

[iv] State v. Sanchez, 115 Idaho 776, 1989 Ida. App. LEXIS 57

[v] Daniels v. State, 2002 Alas. App. LEXIS 15 (Alaska Ct. App. Jan. 16, 2002)

[vi] State v. Davis, 123 Idaho 970, 1993 Ida. App. LEXIS 88

[vii] State v. Sykes, 891 P.2d 232 (Alaska Ct. App. 1995)