Embezzlement is a serious white-collar crime that can have financially damaging effects on the victim. As a result, the punishments associated with an embezzlement conviction are severe. Because of the nature of an embezzlement charge, many people are not aware of the investigation before they are arrested. Whether you are aware of the investigation or you have been surprised by an unexpected arrest, your next step should be to hire a federal criminal defense lawyer who has specific experience in this unique area of the law.
Understanding Criminal Embezzlement
Embezzlement and theft or larceny are similar in some regards. For example, they both involve taking property away from its rightful owner. While theft involves the act of trespassing in some way to complete the act, embezzlement does not. With this crime, there is a solid relationship between the two parties, and the victim willfully gives control of the property to the defendant. This constitutes lawful possession. From there, however, the accused party seizes the property in some way for his or her benefit or use without the intention of returning it to its rightful owner.
Some examples of this type of crime may include elaborate pyramid or Ponzi schemes. Another example is an employee stealing property or funds from a workplace. Embezzlement occurs when the items in question have been consumed, sold, given away, seriously damaged or withheld from the rightful owner in another way.
Punishments for an Embezzlement Conviction
The burden of proof lies on the prosecutor in any criminal case. If the prosecutor is successful at proving that you committed embezzlement, you could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. In addition, you may be required to pay a fine in the amount that you embezzled. If the amount is less than $1,000, your maximum jail sentence may be one year. On the other hand, some instances may carry a stiffer penalty. For example, you may face a $1 million penalty and up to 30 years in prison if you are found guilty of embezzling from a bank.
Keep in mind that the ramifications of an embezzlement case can impact your life in other ways. For example, a conviction may tarnish your reputation. This may make it more difficult for you to lead a normal life after your punishment has been served. A felony conviction impacts everything from your ability to get a job to your voting rights and more. Regardless of how much evidence the prosecutor has accumulated against you, an effective defense strategy may help you to avoid dealing with these ramifications.
Embezzlement Defense Strategies
The prosecutor has several burdens of proof that must be met in order to win an embezzlement case. Before you can be found guilty of this crime, the prosecutor must show that you were entrusted with the money or property in question and that you had some type of fiduciary relationship with the victim. In addition, you must have taken that property as your own unlawfully.
Defense strategies often involve poking holes in one or more areas of the prosecutor’s efforts in these areas. For example, your criminal embezzlement attorney could argue that you did not take the property for personal gain or that it was not taken unlawfully. Your attorney may turn the tables and show that you are actually a victim of entrapment rather than the perpetrator in the crime. Another defense strategy is to claim some type of mental incapacitation. In some cases, a cut-and-dry defense related to the statute of limitations is an effective defense. There is a five-year statute of limitations for embezzlement. After this period of time has passed, you cannot be prosecuted for the crime.
Schedule a Legal Consultation Today
Are you facing embezzlement charges today, or are you the subject of an embezzlement investigation? The potential outcomes of a conviction are severe on many levels, so you understandably need to confront the matter directly with the legal support of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. This white-collar crime has unique nuances. Because of this, the right lawyer for the case is one who has specific experience working on other related cases. Connect with the law firm today to schedule a legal consultation and to explore your options in detail.
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