Someone who is co-owner of a property with me handled the books for awhile. I learned he was taking more than his share of the money whenever he wanted. He promised to stop, but he continued. We worked out an arrangement whereby he would pay me back each month. What is the Massachusetts statute of limitations on my ability to either sue him or bring charges against him.
Contracts / Agreements Lawyer
With respect to the CRIME of embezzlement (which you can not per se "bring" against someone, but can only be brought by a prosecutor if they believe they have sufficient evidence--so talking to the police is a good step), the statute of limitations is six years from the date the crime was committed. Mass. Gen. Laws c. 277, § 63.
With respect to the civil TORT of embezzlement (technically called a "conversion"), which you can sue civilly for, the statute of limitations is three years from the "date the cause of action accrues". Mass. Gen. Laws c. 260, § 2A. This *could* be the date you found out about the embezzlement but it could also be the date of the most recent embezzlement, since as a co-owner you will probably have responsibility for ensuring the integrity of the property's finances imputed to you. It's a fact-specific question though as to when the clock starts running.
Douglas Lloyd is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Answers provided on Avvo are intended for informational purposes only; they are not intended as legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship. The material is presented with the understanding and agreement that I am not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services by posting it.
You may want to consult a litigation or business attorney to assist you should you decide to file suit. I agree with Attorney Lloyd's answer that criminal embezzlement is a charge brought by the prosecutor but you may file a criminal complaint to get the process going. Or, you may want to bring civil suit against the co-owner for conversion which is the taking of assets that are not yours and using the funds for personal use. As a co-owner, this person owed fiduciary duties to the company which include not stealing from it. I would recommend gathering all the evidence you have of this and bringing it to an attorney as soon as possible because as Attorney Lloyd noted, the statute of limitations can be tolled and you may not be time-barred from bringing this action. Best of luck.
Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. (It lets us know how we are doing.) Attorney Kremer is licensed to practice in Massachusetts. Please visit her Avvo profile for contact information. In accordance with Avvo guidelines, the following disclaimer applies to all responses given in this forum: The above is NOT legal advice, and is NOT intended to be legal advice. No Attorney-Client relationship is created through the above answer.