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  • Writer's pictureJustin Sparks

Embezzlement Statute of Limitations | Texas Laws Defendants Should Explore

Under Texas law, people who commit embezzlement can face criminal charges and be penalized accordingly. However, prosecutors are required to initiate legal action against alleged offenders before the statute of limitations expires.


In essence, the statute of limitations defines how much time prosecutors have to file charges against the person who committed the alleged crime. If they fail to meet this deadline, the case won't go to the trial court.


These limits have been imposed to protect both parties. Therefore, it's important for defendants to understand such laws.


This article explores the statute of limitations for criminal cases involving embezzlement and what alleged offenders should do when facing these allegations. Sparks Law Firm can also advise on a sexual harassment statute of limitations Texas.


The Definition of Embezzlement

The Definition of Embezzlement


The term "embezzlement" describes any act where a person takes and uses for personal purposes something that has been entrusted to him or her in a professional capacity.


As such, embezzlement is considered a form of theft where offenders commit financial fraud. This act often involves stealing money or other types of assets from an employer.


Below are some common examples of embezzlement:


  • Overbilling

  • Stealing credit card data

  • Accepting kickbacks

  • Faking payments

  • Cashing checks from customers

  • Misusing expense accounts

  • Faking signatures

  • Using corporate cards for personal purposes


Embezzlement can also occur in medical settings when a worker's actions are considered health care fraud. Common cases include individuals who steal medications and supplies for personal use or who bill patients for extra services and keep the money for themselves.


What Is "Embezzlement" Under Texas Law?

The Texas Penal Code defines how criminal cases must be handled. Based on these laws, an act must meet certain elements to be categorized as an "embezzlement."


In this sense, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:


  • The alleged offender took money or assets that belonged to another person without their permission and used them for personal purposes.

  • The defendant intended to deprive owners of the stolen property without their consent.


The Statute of Limitations for Embezzlement in Texas


Texas laws state that the statute of limitations for most criminal cases involving theft, including embezzlement, is five years from the date the offense occurred.


However, this time limit may vary depending on several factors, such as the severity of the crime. Plus, state laws recognize some exceptions to the statute of limitations, which means this period can be paused or extended. For more information, an experienced criminal attorney may be able to help.


Is Embezzlement a Felony or a Misdemeanor Under the Texas Penal Code?

In Texas, embezzlement cases are classified based on the degree of loss the alleged offender caused.


More often than not, if the embezzlement results in a loss of less than $2,500, the defendant could be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if the stolen assets are valued at a higher sum, alleged offenders may face the following:


  • State jail felony

  • Third-degree felony

  • Second-degree felony

  • First-degree felony

Time Limits Based on the Severity of the Offense

These are the common statutes of limitations for cases involving embezzlement:


  • Two years for misdemeanor embezzlement charges

  • Between three and five years for felony robbery or theft charges

  • 10 years for embezzlement cases involving the theft of fiduciary property

  • 10 years for embezzlement cases involving the theft of government property


When Can the Statute of Limitations for Embezzlement Be Tolled?

In Texas, the statute of limitations for embezzlement can be tolled under different circumstances, including the following:


  • The defendant is outside of Texas when the criminal charges are brought.

  • The alleged offender is under indictment for the same conduct, transaction, or act.

  • The prosecutor files criminal charges against the alleged offender (the statute of limitations may start running again if such charges are dismissed).


Potential Penalties for Embezzlement Cases


If found guilty of the alleged offense, the defendant may face severe consequences. As mentioned, penalties are often based on the value of the stolen assets or loss.


These are some examples:


  • Misdemeanor charge with up to one year in jail for losses valued at $750-$2,500

  • State jail felony charge with up to two years behind bars for losses valued at $2,500-$30,000

  • Third-degree felony charge with up to 10 years in prison for losses valued at $30,000-$150,000

  • Second-degree felony charge with up to 20 years in state prison for losses valued at $150,000-$300,000

  • First-degree felony charge with up to 99 years in state prison for losses valued at more than $300,000


Although these are the most common penalties, defendants can face even harsher consequences if they have been convicted of multiple criminal charges.


Statutes of Limitations for Other Criminal Charges in Texas


Other criminal charges, such as sexual assaults and human trafficking, are handled under the Texas Penal Code but are subject to different statutes of limitations. Below is an overview of such time limits.


  • Two years: Most misdemeanors

  • Three years: Felonies that aren't listed in the Art. 12.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and cases involving domestic violence if classified as misdemeanors

  • Five years: Theft, robbery, insurance fraud, burglary, kidnapping, and abandoning or endangering children 

  • Seven years: Criminal violations that appear in Chapter 162 of the Tax Code, false statement to obtain property or credit, money laundering, Medicaid fraud, and bigamy

  • 10 years: Misapplication of fiduciary property, misuse of assets that belong to a financial institution, lesser sexual assault cases, injury to an elderly or disabled person, arson, human trafficking, compelling prostitution, and forgery

  • 20 years: Aggravated kidnapping, sexual performance by a child, some burglary cases

  • No statute of limitations: Murder, manslaughter, aggravated sexual offense, continuous human trafficking, and any sex crimes involving children


Final Thoughts: Should Alleged Offenders Seek Help from an Attorney?

Final Thoughts: Should Alleged Offenders Seek Help from an Attorney?


Even if they're facing charges for serious or violent crimes, alleged offenders have the right to seek legal representation.


People who have been accused of embezzlement should find a reliable law office and ask an experienced attorney to evaluate their cases. Seasoned lawyers can help them understand their legal rights and adopt the best approach to handle the criminal procedure. They can also help with information on a theft statute of limitations Texas.


Whether charges were brought to legal proceedings after the criminal statute of limitations expired or prosecutors aren't able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants are actually guilty, a reliable attorney will choose the right defense to avoid or reduce penalties.


Contact Sparks Law Firm Today!

Sparks Law Firm's legal team has extensive experience handling criminal cases and is equipped with skilled professionals to defend alleged offenders.

These compassionate attorneys will go the extra mile to help defendants prevent the criminal case from affecting their lives. Call today and request more information!

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