Understanding New Mexico’s Embezzlement Laws (and Potential Penalties)
Legal Access does not equal Legal Ownership – A New Mexico Embezzlement Defense Attorney Explains
Embezzlement is a form of property theft. It occurs when one steals assets from a person or entity for whom the thief was managing the assets. What is important to note here is the fact that the guilty party had legal access to the money or property; however, he or she was not the legal owner.
When money or property is then taken from another person or entity, it is considered a form of stealing under the law. When you combine theft with the fact that the person was in a position of trust, the crime is then escalated to the level of embezzlement – and could be charged as a federal crime, depending on the circumstances.
Embezzlement Laws on the Federal Level
The federal level focuses on embezzlement that occurs from the federal government – examples include an IRS representative taking taxpayer money or a park ranger stealing property. Federal laws will also deal with the property theft when that property was owned by a private person or entity, but the government had paid for it.
It is important to note that federal embezzlement laws are not the same as state-level charges. Therefore, if you live in the state of New Mexico, you most likely will be charged with a state-level crime – unless you have stolen something from the federal government as its agent.
Punishments for Embezzlement in New Mexico
The New Mexico Statute Section 30-16-8 lists the following potential punishments for embezzlement crimes:
- Less than $250: The penalties include a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail;
- More than $250, but less than $500: The penalty is up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail;
- More than $500, but less than $2,500: The penalty includes a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 18 months in prison (a felony);
- More than $2,500, but less than $20,000: The penalty includes a fine of up to $5,000 and up to three years in prison (a felony);
- More than $20,000: The penalty includes a fine of up to $10,000 and up to nine years in prison.
You Need Local Representation
If you have been charged with embezzlement or a property theft-related crime, you must consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney in the state. Regardless of whether the charges are later escalated to a federal level, a state-level attorney can assist you with any charges that the state of New Mexico plans to bring against you. While the penalties are governed by statutory law, only an attorney can help you devise a defense strategy and, hopefully, lessen the penalties.