Florida Embezzlement Charges
Although most of us hear about embezzlement cases pretty regularly in the news, a surprising number of people only have a general idea of what this offense actually entails. This is especially true in Florida, which criminalizes this type of conduct differently than many other states, so if you are being investigated for embezzlement, it is critical to speak with a white collar crime attorney who is well-versed in Florida law and who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Embezzlement as a Property Crime
Many people are surprised to learn that in Florida, embezzlement is prosecuted under the state’s theft laws, which means that the penalties faced by a defendant depend on the value assigned to the property that was allegedly taken. However, there are some major differences between standard theft cases and embezzlement cases. For instance, most theft charges require prosecutors to prove that the property in question was taken without authorization. In embezzlement cases, however, the state doesn’t actually need to prove that a defendant took someone else’s property without that person’s consent, as entrustment of assets or property in these types of cases is usually voluntary. Despite this difference, prosecutors are still required to prove that a defendant later purposely spent, took, or used the assets without consent.
Petit Theft v. Grand Theft
Like standard theft offenses, embezzlement is charged as either petit theft, which is a misdemeanor, or grand theft, which is a felony offense. The type of theft a person is charged with depends on the value of the assets, which also determines whether a person is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Most embezzlement cases are charged as felonies, as a person only needs to be accused of taking $300 to be charged with grand theft in the third degree, an offense that is punishable by five years in prison. Once the value exceeds $20,000, however, the charge can be further enhanced to a second degree felony, while property worth over $100,000 can justify a first degree felony charge. Property that does not meet these minimum value requirements can only support a petit theft charge, which is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Florida. Whether a person has a prior criminal record for theft can also play an important role in the severity of the charges faced by a defendant.
With so much at stake, it is important for those who have been charged with embezzlement in Florida to raise a strong defense on their behalf. For instance, a person who is charged with embezzlement could argue that he or she had a genuine and good faith belief that he or she owned the property in question or had the right to possess it. This type of defense is especially common in cases where an executive mistakenly mixed personal funds with business funds. Alternatively, a defendant could escape prosecution if he or she can prove that the property owner gave the defendant permission to use or retain the property permanently.
Set up a Free Consultation with an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney
If you have been unfairly accused of embezzlement in Miami, please don’t hesitate to call dedicated white collar crime attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at 305-670-9919 for a free case evaluation.