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What you need to know about embezzlement of public property

In the leadup to the 2020 presidential election, political coverage seems to be everywhere. If you have a passion for leadership or policy, you may be thinking about becoming a public servant. Alternatively, you may already have a role in federal, state or local government. Either way, you must understand embezzlement of public property, which is a crime in the Centennial State. 

Section 18-8-407 of the Colorado Revised Statutes prohibits any public servant from converting public funds or property to his or her use, provided that doing so is a violation of law. As such, if you are a public servant and steal either money or government property, you likely violate the statute. 

Examples of embezzlement of public property 

Any public servant, including federal, state, county or local elected officials, may potentially embezzle public property. Prosecutors may also charge staff members, consultants, contractors, support personnel and others with the offense. 

While taking money that does not belong to you is often the clearest example of embezzlement, there are some other ways to violate Colorado law. For example, if you work for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and take a laptop home for personal use, you may meet the elements of embezzlement of public property. 

Penalties for embezzling public property 

If a judge or jury convicts you of embezzlement of public property, you face some stiff criminal penalties. Notably, the offense is a class 5 felony in Colorado. Accordingly, you may serve between one and five years in prison following a guilty verdict or plea. You may also have to pay a fine of up to $100,000. 

A conviction for embezzling public property also renders you permanently ineligible to serve in the Colorado General Assembly or hold any other office of public trust in the state. Furthermore, because embezzlement of public funds is a felony, you may have difficulty obtaining employment in the private sector. 

Clearly, embezzlement of public property is a serious offense in the Centennial State. Therefore, if you suspect you are the target of an investigation, you may need to act quickly to limit your legal exposure. Additionally, if you enjoy being a public servant and face criminal charges, you also must understand how to defend yourself successfully.

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