Embezzlement Charges in Texas and Your Professional License
Are You a Licensed Professional Facing Embezzlement Charges?
The Texas Medical Board outlines strict standards that physicians must adhere to in order to keep their license to practice medicine. Other professional licensing boards also maintain these strict standards. When a doctor or other licensed professional faces criminal charges, their license may be at risk of being suspended or revoked by the board. Embezzlement is one such crime that can result in serious criminal and civil penalties. If you face embezzlement charges in Texas or similar fraud charges, please speak with an experienced Texas license defense lawyer to prepare your defense.
Any accusations, charges, or convictions for embezzlement could very easily result in penalties to one’s medical license or another professional license. This is why it is essential to speak with a qualified license defense attorney who has experience with embezzlement cases involving licensed and medical professionals. Leichter Law is uniquely qualified to defend your license and your practice against serious accusations of white-collar crimes. To schedule your free consultation with an experienced Texas defense attorney, please call our office at 512-495-9995 today.
What Is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is the criminal act of taking something that has been entrusted to you in a professional capacity and putting it to personal use. In other words, it involves committing theft for personal financial gain. Embezzlement often involves stealing money from an employer, but can also involve other types of assets.
Some common examples of general embezzlement include the following actions.
- Pocketing cash payments
- Cashing checks from customers
- Faking payments and signatures
- Stealing credit card data
- Misusing expense accounts
- Stealing equipment or office supplies
- Using company cards for personal purchases
- Accepting kickbacks
The above list is not exhaustive, as many other actions can also be considered embezzlement.
How Does Embezzlement Occur in Medical Settings?
In medical settings, embezzlement often falls under the umbrella term “health care fraud.” Many different parties could be held liable for medical embezzlement, including providers, accountants, and other employees. Some examples of embezzlement that may occur in a medical setting include:
- Stealing needles, medications, or other supplies from work for personal use
- Billing patients for extra services and then keeping the extra money for yourself
- Accepting cash from a patient and keeping it for personal use
Whenever professional assets handled by an employee are taken and used for personal gain, the employee is guilty of embezzlement. While healthcare fraud and embezzlement do happen, it is easy for healthcare professionals to be accused of or charged with crimes they did not commit. This could pose very serious consequences for their medical license and professional future.
Texas Embezzlement Laws
Each state, including Texas, has its own unique criminal code. Under Texas law, cases that involve embezzlement fall under the laws that criminalize theft. These laws are outlined in Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 31.
The elements of embezzlement that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt include the following.
- Defendant took money or property from another person without their consent
- Intent was to deprive the actual owner of the appropriated money or goods without their consent
Is Embezzlement a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Texas?
This depends on the degree of loss involved in the case. Texas law considers embezzlement of less than $2,500 to be a misdemeanor offense. If the value of the property involved or cash stolen is $2,500 or more, this may result in felony charges such as the following.
- State jail felony
- Third-degree felony
- Second-degree felony
- First-degree felony
What Are the Penalties for Embezzlement in Texas?
Depending on the severity of the charges, licensed professionals could face severe penalties for an embezzlement conviction. Below, we outline the embezzlement penalties outlined in the Texas Penal Code. These penalties increase in severity as the dollar value of the offense increases in value.
- $750 or more but less than $2,500: This results in a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in jail.
- $2,500 or more but less than $30,000: This results in a state jail felony charge, which is the lowest level felony in Texas. It is punishable by up to two years in a state jail.
- $30,000 or more but less than $150,000: This results in a third-degree felony charge, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
- $150,000 or more but less than $300,000: This results in a second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in state prison.
- $300,000 or more: This results in a first-degree felony, punishable by 5 to 99 years in state prison.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Embezzlement in Texas?
When the alleged crime is committed, this starts the countdown for the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations outlines a set time period within which the State of Texas must begin criminal prosecution. If the state fails to bring charges before the statute of limitations runs out, they may be barred from prosecuting the defendant.
In Texas, the state generally has two years to prosecute misdemeanors and five years to prosecute felonies involving theft. Therefore, depending on whether an embezzlement charge is a misdemeanor or felony, the state may have up to five years to prosecute an accused individual.
Defending Your License After Embezzlement Charges
Beyond the criminal repercussions, an embezzlement allegation could drastically impact your career and could cause you to lose your license. It is therefore important to seek help from a Texas medical license defense attorney as soon as possible to help you in your board investigation.
An experienced attorney can help to defend your medical license throughout your case and will fight to minimize the licensing penalties brought against you.
Based on the language in the Texas embezzlement laws, the following would qualify as valid defenses against embezzlement charges.
- Lack of intent to deprive the true owner of the property or money or commit theft
- The owner of the money or property gave consent
- Honest mistake in which the defendant did not intend to misappropriate funds or property
Remember that these are not the only possible defenses against such serious charges. Depending on the facts of your case, our medical professional defense attorneys will work with you to craft a strong defense against the accusations or charges you face.
Because embezzlement involves a financial crime, a conviction could cast a large shadow over your integrity as a healthcare professional. We strongly recommend contacting an attorney when you learn you are potentially facing criminal charges.
Is Your Practice at Risk from Embezzlement Charges?
Financial theft accusations or charges are enough to tarnish any working professional’s reputation, but this is especially true for certain occupations, such as public servant or healthcare roles. This is because of the high level of trust that the general population places in these individuals. To maintain their trust, your license, and the success of your practice, it is essential to work with a highly experienced criminal defense attorney.
Why Choose Leichter Law for Your Defense Attorney?
The criminal defense attorneys at Leichter Law have unique experience in defending licensed professionals against many different charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, and DUI charges. When your life and livelihood are at risk, you need an attorney with the niche experience your case requires.
Any licensed professional could face penalties for a white-collar offense they did not commit. Having an attorney at your side will give you the edge you need for the best possible chance at a favorable outcome.
Contact the Texas Medical License Defense Attorneys at Leichter Law Today
If you are facing charges for embezzlement and are concerned about the impact it will have on your medical license or professional practice, know that you are not alone. Contact the Texas license defense lawyers of the Leichter Law Firm at 512-495-9995 to discuss how we can help you defend your license to practice. Our unique experience in criminal charges and professional licensing consequences will give you a fighting chance against such charges.