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What Qualifies as Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a white collar crime that involves a specific type of theft. Embezzlement can be charged in both federal and state court and a conviction in either can have serious consequences, so if you are being investigated for embezzlement, it is important to contact an experienced white collar crime lawyer who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.

Defining Embezzlement

Although embezzlement is a type of theft, it is different from most theft crimes, in that the defendant initially had the right to have possession of the property, but later took it with the intention of keeping it. Embezzlement most often occurs in the course of employment because that is when it is most likely that a person will have a legal reason to hold someone else’s property. For instance, in many jobs, employees are tasked with depositing the business’s earnings in the bank at the end of the day. When an employee decides to spend that money instead of depositing it, he or she can be charged with embezzlement.

The Elements of Embezzlement

In order to convict someone of embezzlement, a prosecutor must establish that:

  • A fiduciary relationship existed between the two parties, which means that one party was responsible for certain fiduciary matters and the other person relied on him or her to fulfill those duties;
  • The defendant acquired the property through the relationship;
  • The defendant either took ownership of the property or gave it to someone else; and
  • The defendant intentionally took the property for his or her own.

Although, the prosecutor will not need to establish that the defendant initially took the property without consent, he or she will need to prove that the defendant later took, used, or spent the funds without approval from the property owner. A good faith believe that the defendant owned the property or that the owner consented to the transfer is enough to defeat an embezzlement charge.

Possible Penalties

The penalties for embezzlement depend on the amount that was taken. For instance, if the amount that was stolen is less than $100, a person can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to two months in jail and a fine of $500. However, when a person embezzles between $300 and $20,000, he or she faces third degree felony charges, which could mean up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Anything exceeding $100,000 is a first degree felony, which is punishable by 30 years in prison. These sentences can also be increased if a defendant already has a criminal record.

Call Today to Speak With a White Collar Crime Lawyer

Being charged with embezzlement in Miami can have serious repercussions, including jail time and hefty fines. Those who are convicted will also have a permanent criminal record, which can make it difficult to secure employment or housing, so if you have been charged with embezzlement, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 to schedule a consultation with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can evaluate your case.



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