Embezzlement is a crime involving theft of property that belongs to somebody else. The crime is committed by a person who is in a position of trust or responsibility over that property. Almost always, that property is money. If one person is in a position of responsibility for the property of somebody else and takes that property for their own personal use or advantage, he or she can be found guilty of embezzlement.
What distinguishes embezzlement from other theft crimes in the State of Montana is that the person who takes those funds for their own use or gain has a lawful right to access the property. Montana has no actual embezzlement statute, but it is addressed in the state’s theft sentencing statute. Any alleged embezzlement would be charged as a crime of theft.
Theft in Montana
Montana’s theft statute is found at Montana Code Annotated section 45-6-301, et seq. A theft is committed in Montana when one person “purposely or knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control” over the property of its owner and intends to deprive or deprives the owner of that property. As opposed to just about everywhere else in the United States, Montana doesn’t classify theft crimes as misdemeanors or felonies, but like every other state, upon conviction of a theft crime in Montana, sentencing turns on the value of the property involved. What would be misdemeanor theft and felony theft in another state are only distinguished in Montana by where any sentence of incarceration would be served. That would be in either a county jail or a state prison.
Possible Time Behind Bars
Montana has a petty theft statute, the limit of which is the theft of property with a value of $1,500 or less. That calls for a possible term in jail of not more than six months. Anything over $1,500 in just about any other state would be classified as a felony. In Montana, that would be punishable by a minimum of one year and up to 10 years in a state prison and a fine not to exceed $50,000. Montana Code Annotated section 45-6-301(8)(c), states that anybody “convicted of the offense of theft or property exceeding $10,000 in value by embezzlement shall be imprisoned in a state prison for a for a term of not less than one year or more than 10 years and may be fined an amount not to exceed $50,000.” This section allows for probation with restitution with specific terms and conditions.
Prosecutors and judges don’t take embezzlement lightly. One woman who was convicted of embezzling more than $13,000 from a Belgrade business recently received a 10 year prison sentence with eight years suspended. Another woman was charged and convicted for embezzlement after writing herself nearly $80,000 from both the Sidney Jaycees and the Lone Tree Motor Inn. When the motel learned of the missing funds, she tried to reimburse management with funds from the Jaycees. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail, and restitution was ordered. A Flathead man who was the treasurer of Three Rivers EMS was convicted of embezzling funds from the service was given a six year deferred prison sentence with restitution to be paid.
Contact a Missoula Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been suspected of embezzlement or charged with theft in or around Missoula, exercise your right to remain silent. Don’t give a statement or confession of any kind. You have the right to an attorney, so exercise that right. Contact our office, and arrange for a consultation. We might even be able to resolve the issue without having charges filed against you.