Being your own boss is fairly rewarding. However, even those operating their own businesses can’t give themselves raises as their income is tied wholly to their business income. Nonetheless, one West Palm Beach woman is facing charges in Steubenville, OH after she gave herself a $60,000 a year raise by tampering with records. Because her income was funded by the County government, that amounts to a theft of $60,000 a year. She is further accused of hiring a family member to a public position and setting the family member’s salary.
Understanding the charges
To be sure, there is no statute in any state that makes it a crime to give yourself a raise. However, now that everything is run by computers, a simple edit within the database can earn you at least $60,000 a year. Accessing the database to change the records would be considered a crime akin to digital trespass or hacking. However, because the woman had the legal authority to access the records, she is being charged under anti-corruption statutes that impact those who hold public office. The wiring of unauthorized funds to her account is a simple form of theft. However, because she was in public office and used her position to perpetrate the theft, it is charged under anti-corruption statutes (theft in office).
To be sure, hacking and theft of public funds committed by your average citizen would likely constitute a longer prison sentence and scarier charges than the four felonies the woman is facing now. However, it is difficult to get elected officials to vote for legislation that potentially puts them in prison. That is why the majority of these suits are filed by the federal government. In this case, the state attorney general is initiating the case against the woman. She is facing two third-degree and two fourth-degree felonies related to this matter.
The federal government could have filed charges against the woman under anti-corruption statutes or more broadly, under grand theft and federal larceny statutes. In a case like this, her sentence would be given a base point total of 6 points and then other aggravating factors would have extended her sentence. As it stands, she is facing 2 fourth-degree felonies which are the lowest type of felony you can face and largely never result in prison time. Sentences are usually between 1 and 3 years. Two third-degree felonies are maybe 6 years maximum with no minimum guideline, so she may not even face prison time on these charges. Nonetheless, she will have a criminal record that will make it difficult for her to retain future employment, especially in the government.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have “given yourself a raise” then you may need a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney. Call The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your defense strategy immediately.