Embezzlement is a white collar crime that involves the illegal appropriation of property or funds that were entrusted to your care by someone else. If you have been tasked with managing or caring for resources, whether by an individual, a company, or another entity, violation of this position of trust can lead to embezzlement charges. The central aspect of embezzlement is that while you had legal access to the money or property in question, you did not have legal ownership of it.
Common examples of embezzlement seen in Florida include employees diverting funds into accounts for personal use, board members abusing their privileges for their own gain, and individuals inappropriately using company property, such as vehicles.
Potential Punishment for Embezzlement
Because there is no Florida law that specifically addresses embezzlement, the crime is prosecuted under the general theft statute, FSA § 812.014.
The punishments that come with a conviction for theft can be quite severe, and they increase proportionally to the amount allegedly stolen. Generally, if the amount embezzled is less than $300, you will face misdemeanor charges, while larger amounts will carry felony charges. The specific punishments, depending on the dollar amount of goods or funds embezzled, are spelled out by the statute as follows:
- Less than $100 is considered a second degree misdemeanor, carrying a sentence of up to 60 days in county jail, a $500 fine, or both.
- $100 to $300 will trigger first degree misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to a year in county jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
- $300 to $20,000 embezzled is a second degree felony, which can carry a sentence of up to 5 years in state prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
- $20,000 to $100,000 is considered a second degree felony, with potential for up to 15 years in state prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.
- Finally, embezzlement of more than $100,000 is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in state prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.
In addition to these severe restrictions on your liberty and exorbitant monetary penalties, a finding of guilt for embezzlement charges can also have devastating effects on your future prospects. Potential employers, in viewing your criminal record, would not take kindly to information about a crime of dishonesty. In addition, an arrest or conviction for a white collar crime can put your professional license in jeopardy. To protect your reputation, as well as your freedoms and your assets, you must enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been accused of embezzlement, or if you suspect that you are being investigated for a white collar crime, you need a tenacious South Florida defense attorney to advocate for you. Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. will evaluate your case, advise you on your options, and he will fight to avoid charges being filed or to reduce your charges. Embezzlement investigations often produce thousands of pages of evidence, and the process of defending yourself against allegations in court can be tedious, complicated, and downright frustrating. You deserve a dedicated attorney to pursue the best outcome for your case.