In South Carolina, the crime commonly known as embezzlement is called “breach of trust with fraudulent intent.” It occurs when one person who, while entrusted with another person’s property, intentionally converts that property for his own benefit.
This form of white-collar crime can be committed in many ways. Examples that have been reported in South Carolina over the past few years include:
- A Clarendon County woman who stole her employer’s checkbook and wrote checks to herself
- A Rock Hill lawyer who kept more than $166,000 that his client handed over to him during a real estate closing to pay off the balance on a mortgage
- A Myrtle Beach rental company owner who deposited rental payments into his personal account and failed to pay property owners
- Summerville gym owners who lost $2,400 when a woman sold them gym equipment over Facebook Marketplace but never delivered the product
Punishments for breach of trust with fraudulent intent depend on the value of property diverted from its rightful owner. They range from five years in prison for thefts of more than $2,000 to 10 years in prison if $10,000 or more is stolen. Thefts of $2,000 or less are prosecuted as misdemeanors, with a maximum of 30 days in jail.
In addition to possible prison time and serious fines, a conviction of breach of trust with fraudulent intent could impugn your personal reputation or that of your business. If you find yourself up against claims that you improperly used another person’s money or property, it is wise to consult an experienced white-collar criminal defense attorney.
There are several defenses available. Defendants may demonstrate that:
- the property rightfully belonged to them, or they so believed
- the property owner authorized them to take and sell the property
- there was no intent to steal from or defraud the other person
A defendant may also argue that no trust relationship existed, and therefore breach of trust could not have occurred. In some cases, charges are unfairly brought for financial disputes that should be handled in civil court rather than criminal court.
Criminal defender Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law develops strong strategies to fight charges of breach of trust with fraudulent intent. Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Mr. Swerling is well-versed in South Carolina’s laws concerning criminal fraud and white-collar crime. To schedule a free initial consultation with Mr. Swerling, call 800-701-0599 or contact us online.