My sister stole 30,000 what type of lawyer can I contact?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “My sister stole money from a settlement that belonged to me. What type of attorney should I contact and what types of penalties is she likely to face?” 

In 2013, Rahshone Burnett was given control over millions of dollars that his nieces and nephews had won in a wrongful death claim. Instead of using the money to care for his young relatives, he stole the money and bought cars, jewelry, and guns.

What’s worse, however, is that while he was living the high life his nieces and nephews were languishing in poverty. Burnett was ultimately sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison for his illegal actions.

Criminal charges for larceny or embezzlement

You asked what type of attorney you should contact. The first step, however, is determining if a crime has been committed. 

You didn’t give many specific details about the case. For example, we don’t know whether your sister came into your home and physically took money from you that you had received from a settlement (larceny) or she had been given control to manage the funds by the court and embezzled them, using them for her own purposes rather than how they were legally intended.

Regardless of her actions, however, if she took money that did not belong to her or she spent money in a way in which she was not authorized to spend it, it is likely she has committed a crime (with the exception for negligence if she was the executor of the settlement funds and simply became sloppy, overwhelmed, or failed to keep accurate records).

Assuming her actions were not negligent and a long conversation or hiring another bookkeeper or accountant to handle some of the basic accounting duties does not clear up the issue, it’s time to get some legal help.

Legal help against an executor who is embezzling money

If your sister was given control of the money from an estate or a settlement and you think she is embezzling money you can hire a lawyer who was not involved in the case to review the case.  For example, if the money was from a death or an inheritance then a probate lawyer can review the last will and testament, probate court filings, and any correspondence to determine if your sister has misused any funds.

After the investigation the lawyer will have evidence and can either submit it to the probate court, or if he determines something criminal has occurred, you can contact local law enforcement authorities. If the probate court determines your sister has embezzled funds they can remove her as the executor and replace her with another executor. If what she has done is considered illegal there’s a good chance that criminal charges could also be filed against her. 

Sister stole money out of my house

Now, if your sister committed larceny by coming into your home and physically stealing $30,000 there is no question that she has committed a crime. She cannot claim that she negligently misspent funds or failed to make an accounting entry. 

In this case you have several options. You can discuss her actions with her and see if she will return the money, or you can go to the police and file a police report. The prosecutor will review the case and determine if there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against her.

If the state files criminal charges against her then she will be prosecuted and can decide whether to plead guilty or fight the charges. If she is convicted she will most likely have to pay some type of restitution to you, fines to the state, and spend some time in jail.

Can I file a civil case against my sister?

Regardless of whether or not your sister is charged with a crime, however, you may have the legal right to file a civil case against her. If you win your civil case against your sister she may be required to repay you for your loss. If she cannot pay, however, the court may issue a judgment, allowing a lien to be placed against her assets. The court may also allow her wages to be garnished until she has repaid the money she stole

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