Theft and Property Crimes


Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.

Embezzlement is commonly construed as stealing from your employer. It is a theft of money or property by a person who has been entrusted to manage or monitor that property. The key element in embezzlement is that the person had the authority to access the money or property, but did not have legal ownership of it.

Prohibited Activities

In order to be found guilty or being convicted of Embezzlement, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
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There was a trust relationship between the victim and the defendant, usually the employer and employee;
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The money or property came into the care of the defendant by way of his or her employment;
The property was fraudulently converted or misappropriated for the defendant’s own use;
The defendant acted with the intent to deprive the plaintiff of this property


Embezzlement is punishable by prison or jail time and fines, as well as restitution of the amounts stolen.

In California, embezzlement of property worth more than $ 950.00 is grand theft, punishable by a jail sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $ 10,000.00.

Under § 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code, embezzlement is treated as theft. Depending on the amount of money or value of property embezzled, the penalty may be up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 10,000.00.

If the embezzlement involves federal property or property the federal government has paid for, embezzlement may be prosecuted as a federal crime punishable by up to ten years in federal prison and a fine of up to $ 10,000.00.

Theft of Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage

Theft of trade secrets may be a state or federal crime.

It consists of the taking, without permission or authorization, a trade secret owned by another person to be used for the economic benefit of someone who is not the owner of the secret.

Prohibited Activities

In order to be found guilty or being convicted of Theft of Trade Secrets, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
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The information is question is a formula, device, or compilation of information that is used in business and gives that business an advantage over competitors who do not know it;
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The owner of the trade secret took reasonable steps to preserve the secrecy of it; and;
The defendant misappropriated the secret or used improper means to acquire the trade secret.

Medicare Fraud

Under California law, theft of trade secrets is punishable by a fine of up to $ 5000.00 and up to one year in county jail.

In Texas, the crime is a felony of the third degree and is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.00 and a prison term of two to ten years.

New York state law provides civil liability, but not criminal liability, for misappropriation of trade secrets through its common law. New York: No statute; common law only.

The federal crime is punishable by a fine and up to ten years in prison, when committed by a person, and a fine of up to $ 5 million dollars if committed by an organization.;

Theft of trade secrets is closely related to the federal crime of economic espionage, which is the theft of trade secrets for the benefit of a foreign government, foreign instrumentality, or foreign agent. Thus, in addition to the three elements listed above, a charge of espionage also requires a fourth element: that the crime was done to benefit a foreign government, company, or person. An individual who commits this crime may be fined up to $5 million and imprisoned for up to 15 years; an organization that is found guilty may be fined up to $10 million or three times the value of the stolen trade secret.

Travel Act (18 USC § 1952)

The Travel Act prohibits the use of U.S. mail, interstate travel, or foreign travel for the purpose of committing certain crimes.


The Travel Act is a federal criminal statute that prohibits travel or the use of the mail for the purpose of committing a violent crime, carry on an illegal activity, or distribute the proceeds of such illegal activity.

Prohibited Activities

In order to be found guilty of a violation of the Travel Act, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person:
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Traveled, either to a foreign country or between states, or used the mails;
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In furtherance of an unlawful activity.
“Unlawful activity” for purposes of the statute includes gambling, distribution of untaxed liquor, drug offenses, prostitution, extortion, bribery, or arson.


If the federal government obtains a conviction under the Travel Act, punishment may consist of a fine and up to twenty years in prison. If death results from the crime, the punishment may be increased to life in prison.

Case: Perrin v. United States (1979)
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