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The Difference Between Theft and Embezzlement in Pennsylvania

April 11, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Recently, the founder of Marauder Aquatic Club was accused with stealing nearly $40,000 from the aquatic club over a period of two years. Kyle Almoney, is accused of stealing the funds for his own personal expenses. Those expenses included a trip to Hawaii. Since his arrest, Almoney has been released on bail. The case raises an interesting question. In Pennsylvania, is this crime considered theft or embezzlement?

Theft in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, theft is defined as taking movable or immovable property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property, and without intention to return the stolen property. Movable property is that which is possible to move from one place to another. Stealing something from a retail store is considered theft of movable property. Immovable property is property that cannot be moved. An interest in real estate is an example of immovable property.

Not all theft crimes in Pennsylvania are classified the same way. If the property stolen is valued at less than $50, the theft is considered a misdemeanor in the third degree. When the theft of property is valued between $50 and $200, it is a misdemeanor in the second degree. Any theft that involves property valued over $200, and that does not qualify as a felony is considered a misdemeanor in the first degree.

Felony charges for theft are laid when the amount stolen was over $2,000. Other factors, including stealing an automobile, can also increase a theft charge to a felony. Second-degree felony charges are laid when certain property, such as firearms or certain types of ammonia, are stolen. Theft is most often charged as a felony in the first-degree if it was over $2,000 and the person that stole the items intended to sell them.

Embezzlement in Pennsylvania

The difference between theft and embezzlement in Pennsylvania is that theft typically involves taking an item from the lawful owner without the intent to return it. Embezzlement on the other hand, is a misappropriation of funds generally without the intent to return it.

Embezzlement cases typically revolve around money. They also include a fiduciary duty, which is a relationship between at least two people in which one person has extreme trust or confidence in the other person, the fiduciary. The fiduciary then takes the money and misappropriates it, typically for their own benefit.

Most people consider embezzlement to be a white collar crime, and one that is also considered a federal crime. This is not always true, though. Pennsylvania, as every other state, has its own embezzlement laws so a person accused may face either federal or state charges.

In the case of the swimming club, Almoney did not intend to return the money. It is unknown if he had a fiduciary duty. The District Attorney charged Almoney with felony theft and forgery.

Let Us Help You Today

Theft charges are taken very seriously in the state of Pennsylvania. Those accused need the help of a theft attorney in Pennsylvania that can build a strong defense against the charges.

If you have been charged with theft, contact the Philadelphia theft defense lawyers at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123 or fill out our online form. We know the laws pertaining to theft in the state, and we’ll use our knowledge and experience to give you the best chance at a successful outcome in court. Call us today so we can begin discussing your case.


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