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Embezzlement involves the misappropriation of another party’s funds or property for personal gain.
Embezzlement typically becomes a federal crime when it involves the agencies of the United States government. In Florida, embezzlement, which is considered a white collar crime, is prosecuted under the state’s theft laws. These crimes often occur in business settings where workers have access to large amounts of money and illegally take company funds. Sometimes employees will siphon off company funds for personal use, manipulate account balances, create fake lines of credit and may try to conceal the theft by tampering with the company’s financial records. In most cases, the theft will be discovered, and investigations will trace back to the person who committed embezzlement
If you are the owner of the company you can still be arrested for embezzlement if you are using funds that should go toward company purposes for your own personal uses. In many instances someone will still be charged with embezzlement even after they have returned any money they illegally took. However, the fact that you gave it back should reduce your sentence and/or the amount of any fine or restitution. Additionally, we can use this fact to try persuade the authorities not to charge you.
If you have been accused of embezzlement, you should remain silent and immediately seek the advice of an experienced embezzlement lawyer 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
- 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.
On the other hand, if 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 case, please call a Miami embezzlement lawyer at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at (786) 460-2937. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online.
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