Understanding Embezzlement Laws And Possible Legal Consequences

Anyone that is entrusted to manage financial resources, money, investment accounts, or the personal accounts of someone in their care that skims small amounts, or takes a large amount in a single transaction can be prosecuted for embezzlement. State and local laws typically dictate the possible sentences and determine whether the embezzlement is a misdemeanor or felony. This is often dependent on the amount of money or property that is taken. The key to an embezzlement case is that the defendant had legal access to the money, but not actual ownership of the property. A person in a position of trust includes business partners, employees, and individuals that care for elderly or other family members. An example of an employee relationship of embezzlement is a retail clerk that steals money by not recording sales transactions and yet keeps the money from the sale. Another example is a caregiver of an elderly individual that steal money from an account when the money is designated for the benefit of the elderly person.

Defining Embezzlement

Embezzlement is a crime defined by the fraudulent gaining of the personal property from an individual in a position of trust. It is most often a case of misappropriation of money in business or in personal situations. Generally, any individual that is in a position of financial trust that steals resources can be charged with embezzlement. This includes financial managers, business partners, employees, consultants, and family members. Employees or family members that simply skim some financial resources off the top are in fact committing embezzlement. There are have been many cases over the years of individuals embezzling for years and building a nest egg of ill-begotten. Some individuals have skimmed just a bit of money here and there and over the years, it builds into a significant amount. This includes individuals that fail to report all income to the owners of the business, or their business partners, and keep the remaining amount. In other cases, individuals take a significant amount of money in a single transaction. Some additional embezzlement means include:

· Writing checks from business or personal accounts to yourself, a friend or family member that is not the rightful owner of the money.
· Taking cash from an employer or the person, you are entrusted with caring for.
· Hiding assets with the intent of defrauding your business partner, employer, or the person you are entrusted with caring for.

Court Proceedings For Embezzlement Charges

Embezzlement in the United States is a statutory offense; this means that the actual definition and degree of the crime varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Embezzlement, depending on the amount stolen, and the circumstances surrounding the case, it may be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. The district attorney, prosecutors and the judge will take note of the value of the items or resources taken and this often is enough to dictate whether it is considered a felony or misdemeanor. Misdemeanor cases are often limited to amounts less than $500 but that amount may be less in some jurisdictions. Cases of amounts greater than $500 are considered felonies. Judges and prosecutors will also consider previous criminal history and any past embezzlement on record.
Defense For Embezzlement And Possible Punishments

A criminal defense attorney is the best avenue for defending against any charges of embezzlement. Embezzlement is a serious offense and a conviction can result in serious fines and significant prison time. Criminal defense attorneys can mount several different types of defenses, depending on the circumstances. These can include showing individuals with other access to the money, extenuating circumstances, and others. An attorney with experience in defending their clients against embezzlement is necessary. If found guilty of embezzlement, convicted individuals are often required to repay the amount stolen (restitution), any applicable fines, and may serve significant prison time. For misdemeanor offenses can result in $1,000 fines and six months in prison, where felony convictions for embezzlement can result in fines up to $750,000 and twenty years in jail.

Punishments For Embezzlement

The punishments and possible sentences for a conviction of embezzlement vary widely from state to state and are dependent on whether the embezzlement was a felony or a misdemeanor. Each state has laws that govern the amount of money involved in the case that dictates the fines and prison time. For example, in Alabama, fines can range from $2,000 to $30,000 and/or may include 1 to 20 years in prison. The variables in Alabama law account for the amount of money stolen and the circumstances. In Colorado, fines for embezzlement can range from $250 to $750,000 and can result in from 3 months to 12 years of prison time. In Indiana, in addition to fines up to $10,000, convicted embezzlers must pay the victim the value back in addition to serving up to 8 years in prison.

Embezzlement is a serious crime and a criminal defense attorney with expertise in embezzlement cases must launch a serious and comprehensive defense on behalf of their client. Restitution, fines, and prison time may be administered as legal remedies by the court system and the amount of each will be determined by the amount of money in question that was embezzled; in many jurisdictions even misdemeanor embezzlement can result in serious fines and prison time. Criminal defense attorneys work with prosecutors and the District Attorney to negotiate plea bargains and deals for their clients in addition to mounting an all-encompassing legal defense for their client.