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Trust betrayed: Embezzlement laws for charitable, religious groups

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Criminal law

By relying on generous donations and pledges for support, charitable and religious organizations are built on trust and goodwill. However, these organizations are also vulnerable to financial exploitation. Just because a group is a nonprofit where trust is key doesn’t mean there aren’t any people within who’ll try to misappropriate funds for their own.

North Carolina has laws against embezzling funds from charitable and religious organizations. When does this law apply, and what are the penalties?

Misappropriation, failure to account for funds

Per state law, a treasurer or other financial officer of a religious institution or charitable group commits a violation if they lend any funds that pass through their hands to any other person (such as themselves) or other organization without their group’s consent.

Treasurers will also face charges if they fail to account for such funds when called on by their organization.

This offense is a felony by law.

The penalties for embezzling charitable, religious groups

If the offense involves money worth less than $100,000, it’s a Class H felony. On conviction, a person faces up to three years in prison.

However, if the amount misappropriated in the offense is $100,000 or more, it becomes a Class C felony. This offense is punishable by up to 19 years of prison time.

A financial officer violating their responsibilities to protect their organization’s funds – whether it’s a for-profit or nonprofit – will have to pay a steep price for their misappropriation. If you face charges for embezzling funds from your organization, consider seeking help from a legal professional experienced in white-collar crime law. You should never take fraud accusations lightly because a conviction spells years of jail time and a criminal record that lasts for life.