Charged With Embezzlement?
Punta Gorda Criminal Lawyers
Embezzlement is the act of secretly misappropriating the property of another (money, assets, property, bonds, etc.). It includes the element that the person who embezzles has been entrusted to handle the asset. He has the legal right to handle it, but then subsequently uses it in a fraudulent manner. It is a form of theft that involves deceit.
An example might be an employee who is entrusted to handle the company's finances and who secretly withholds some of the money and uses it for his personal, unauthorized use, called conversion. This act deprives the legal owner of the money to use it as he sees fit. It can be an act that involves millions of dollars over a period of time, or could be tens of thousands or less. For example, a financial advisor could be misappropriating funds from investors over a period of months or years. Or it can be as simple as a cashier pilfering small amounts of cash from the register. A criminal defense attorney should be contacted at once after being charged with this crime.
Embezzlement vs. Larceny
Embezzlement and larceny are both theft crimes. They are similar to each other, but embezzlement differs from larceny. To be charged with embezzlement, there has to be a conversion of the property/asset. This means that, for example, if money was embezzled, then the money had to have been interfered with in some way and converted to a use by the embezzler for which it was not intended. An employee who has legal access to company funds may put some of those funds in his personal banking account where he could have further access to it, and additionally, that the legal owner of that money is deprived of it.
Larceny, on the other hand, is more simply the non-violent taking away of property without authorization and with the intent to deprive its owner of possession. Common examples would be stealing a bicycle, shoplifting, etc. The key difference is that in embezzlement, the defendant was entrusted with the property, then secretly disposed of some of all of that property and used it in a way that was not sanctioned by the owner. In larceny, there is no presumption that the defendant had the right to possess the property before taking it and intending to deprive its owner of possession.
Consequently, when a prosecutor wants to prove a charge of embezzlement, he must first show that the defendant was entrusted with the assets and was afforded substantial control. Obvious examples would include cashiers, managers, comptrollers, etc. The cashier might take a few dollars every day from the cash drawer and uses it to buy makeup. Or perhaps the manager of an auto parts store secretly takes some inventory on a regular basis and resells it on the side. This could qualify as embezzlement. It would be customary for the prosecutor to investigate the exact nature of the defendant's position and the specific duties of that position in order to establish that the defendant even met the standard of being entrusted with the assets.
The punishment for embezzlement depends on the degree of the theft charge. This is determined based upon various elements in the case, such as the value of the assets, determining whether charge is filed a misdemeanor or felony. This can range anywhere from 60 days to 30 years imprisonment and fines from $500 to $10,000. Also whether the defendant has prior convictions will affect the severity of the punishment.
Contact a Punta Gorda Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are under investigation for embezzlement or have been charged with this crime, you should contact the law firm of Leskovich Law Group, P.A., proudly serving both Punta Gorda and Charlotte County. With over 25 years of combined experience, we have the exact expertise needed to thoroughly investigate the circumstances and determine the best strategy to protect your rights and provide the best defense.