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In Florida, embezzlement, which is considered a white collar crime, is prosecuted under the state’s theft laws. Theft is considered a serious crime in Florida, so if you have been charged with embezzlement or a similar offense, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced white collar crime lawyer in Miami who can help you formulate a defense.
What Qualifies as Theft in Florida?
Although Florida law does not mention embezzlement specifically, except in reference to stealing trade secrets, it is still covered under the state’s theft law, which was intentionally drafted in such a way as to cover this type of offense.
Theft is defined as knowingly obtaining, using, or attempting to obtain or use the property of another with the intent to:
- Deprive the owner of a right to or a benefit from the property; or
- Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of a third party.
This definition was written so as to apply to embezzlement, which involves stealing or borrowing property with which the individual was initially entrusted. The law also applies regardless of the length of time that the defendant intended to retain the property, so even if he or she only kept it temporarily, the individual can be charged with embezzlement. Furthermore, unlike other types of theft offenses, criminal intent is considered to arise once possession has been lawfully obtained.
The charge and potential penalties faced by those who are convicted of embezzlement depend on a number of factors, including the value of the stolen property. For instance, if the property allegedly stolen is valued at between $100 and $300, the offender will be charged with petit theft of the first degree, which is considered a first degree misdemeanor. However, most embezzlement cases involve much larger sums. Florida law also specifically provides for this by allowing defendants to be charged with grand theft in the third degree if the property was valued at between $300 and $20,000. Third degree felonies are punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison for each count.
If, on the other hand, the property is valued at more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, a defendant can be charged with a second degree felony, which could mean up to 15 years’ imprisonment. Finally, if the property is valued at more than $100,000, a defendant can be charged with a first degree felony, which means that he or she could spend 30 years in prison. Defendants also face first degree felony grand theft charges if in the course of embezzlement, he or she caused damage in excess of $1,000 to the owner’s property.
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If you are being investigated for embezzlement or another white collar crime, you need the advice of an experienced attorney. For an evaluation of your own case, please call the Miami white collar crime lawyers at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at (305) 670-9919. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online.
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