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Everything you need to know about the Embezzlement Crime

What is Embezzlement of Public Funds? What to do when faced with an Embezzlement Crime? What are the penalties for the Crime of Embezzlement?

What is the Crime of Embezzlement?

The crime of embezzlement is one of the crimes directly related to corruption. The crime of embezzlement is a crime of misappropriation, through which an official or authority exercises an unfair administration of the assets that comprise it.

As the criminal lawyers comment, by means of the crime of embezzlement there is a misappropriation committed by an official or authority. Thus, embezzlement is committed when these subjects alter public assets by carrying out the activities that the Penal Code punishes.

In order for the crime of embezzlement to occur, the alleged perpetrator and person responsible must appropriate the public property of others, and, in addition, the order must be an official or a Public Authority.

Where is the Crime of Embezzlement regulated?

The crime of embezzlement is regulated in articles 432 to 435 bis of the Penal Code, and punishes the authority or public official who commits the crime of article 252 on public property.

Example of the Crime of Embezzlement

Mr. "X" is the mayor of city "A", he has public funds of € 1 million, of which € 500,000 goes to projects to improve the municipality's infrastructure, but the other € 500,000 goes to Mr. X's personal accounts, money he uses to buy a chalet.

In this case, we are facing a crime of embezzlement, since Mr. “X”, which is a Public Authority, uses his own position, to unduly seize public funds, and for his private and personal use. Furthermore, as the value of the damage caused is € 500,000, he would be sentenced to a prison term of 4 to 8 years.

What are the penalties for the basic Crime of Embezzlement?

As stated in Article 432 of the Penal Code, the penalties for the basic rate will be from 2 to 6 years:

"The authority or public official who commits the crime of article 252 on public property, will be punished with a prison sentence of two to six years, special disqualification for public office or employment and for the exercise of the right to passive suffrage for time of six to ten years.

The same penalty shall be imposed on the authority or public official who commits the crime of article 253 on public property.

What are the penalties for Aggravated Embezzlement?

As stated in article 432.3 of the Penal Code, the penalties aggravated for the crime of embezzlement will be from 4 to 8 years:

"The prison terms of four to eight years and absolute disqualification for a period of ten to twenty years will be imposed if any of the following circumstances occurred in the events referred to in the previous two issues:

  1. a) serious damage or hindrance to the public service had been caused, or
  2. b) the value of the damage caused or of the appropriate goods or effects exceeds 50,000 euros.

If the value of the damage caused or of the appropriate goods or effects exceeds 250,000 euros, the penalty will be imposed in its upper half, being able to reach the upper one in degree.”

Is there any way to lessen the penalties established for the Crime of Embezzlement?

Article 434 of the Penal Code allows the perpetrator and guilty of the crime of embezzlement to have his sentence reduced, if he had effectively and fully repaired the damage caused to public property, or had actively collaborated with the authorities or their agents to obtain decisive evidence for the identification or capture of other perpetrators or for the full clarification of the criminal acts. 

In this case, the judge will impose a lesser penalty of one or two degrees on the person responsible for this crime.

The penalty to be applied for the crime of embezzlement will also be less than that which regulates the basic type of this crime in the Penal Code, in the event that the amount of the abducted is less than € 4,000.

In this case, the penalty would be a fine of 2 to 4 months, imprisonment of 6 months to 3 years and suspension of public office for a maximum of 3 years.

When do you prescribe the Crime of Embezzlement?

As established in article 131 of the Penal Code, the basic crime of embezzlement prescribes at 5 or 10 years depending on the penalty imposed.

In the event that the crime of embezzlement is of the aggravated type, it will prescribe at 10 or 15 years, depending on the number of years of disqualification with which the subject is punished.
 

We remind you that at Forcam Abogados, lawyers specialized in embezzlement will be able to clarify any doubts that may arise in your specific case.

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