Embezzlement is a White Collar Crime that normally does not involve violence. Some people believe it is victimless, but in reality, other people do suffer when someone commits embezzlement. Jobs are lost, small companies flounder and fail, and the impact of embezzlement losses does harm others. Usually the crime of embezzlement involves money, but it also can include products or goods. The person accused of this crime has a relationship to the owner of the stolen property or cash, and they were entrusted with care of those assets. By stealing, they violate that trust and their fiduciary responsibilities.
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Sometimes the problem of embezzlement begins when an employee has financial stress and needs large amounts of cash to get out of their situation. They mistakenly fall into a habit of stealing money from their cash drawer or other places at work. Or, they have a problem like gambling that is addictive and leads to many types of losses, including homes, family, jobs and integrity.
If you are accused of embezzlement or arrested for this white collar crime, you need immediate legal representation by an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer who has successfully handled many embezzlement cases. Embezzlement is a type of larceny charge. An experienced Criminal defense attorney understands the details of state and federal laws that might apply to your case. They will develop a strong defense and handle all the legal details efficiently, because they have the knowledge and skill needed to help you with this problem.
To be charged with embezzlement, the prosecution must prove you have violated three essential elements of an embezzlement charge:
- You must have been given possession of the property at a time when you had a position of trust.
- That property must have been taken away from possession of the original owner in some fashion, and then used by the suspect.
- It must be shown that the suspect did this with intent to deprive the owner of that property.
What to Do When Charged with Embezzlement
The first thing is to understand what the exact charges are and then get help from an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer. In Massachusetts, crimes that violate state laws are brought on the state level. If the case involves activity that violates federal laws, it will be tried in federal courts and sentencing will be made according to federal guidelines.
If you embezzled from a company or government agency, you most likely will lose your job immediately, which can cause further financial and personal stress. Again, do not hesitate to seek legal advice and representation immediately. Do not make statements to anyone but your attorney. That attorney will help you protect your rights and fight for your freedom.
Certain crimes that deal with any type of securities, stocks, bonds or other investment tools are regulated at the federal level. Embezzlement of anything like stocks or investments of other people would place you in violation of those federal laws.
Examples of Embezzlement
Many examples of embezzlement are available; it is not just theft of monetary assets from an employer. Someone who is in charge of a household, perhaps as a babysitter, that takes cash or other items from that house while they are supposed to be caring for the children, could be charged with embezzlement at the state level. Likewise, a clerk or cashier who takes money from the cash register or cash drawer for their own use is committing this crime also. If a waitress takes orders for food, serves the customer but does not turn in the receipt or the money is committing embezzlement. It may seem to be a small amount to the suspect, but for the employer, this drainage of assets can be a disaster in the long run.
Federal violations address a variety of business activity, including interstate commerce. If a business-related crime involves locations in more than one state, this is a federal level offense. For example, when an accountant employed by a company in one state creates fictitious employees on the payroll and he cashes those checks personally, but the payroll company is in another state, he violates federal laws.
Any punishments for an embezzlement conviction will vary from state to state and at the federal level. In Massachusetts, the sentencings for embezzlement charges are the ones established for larceny convictions. If the value of items embezzled is under $250 and does not include a firearm, it is considered to be a felony offense. If the valuation is above $250 or involves a firearm, punishments are higher. A conviction can bring up to five years in state prison or up to 2 years in jail, plus a fine up to $25,000.
Federal embezzlement charges follow the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) Guidelines. This guideline uses a point system to determine possible sentences, and is an attempt to normalize sentencing across crimes and locations around the country. Many variables are involved in these calculations, but the ultimate penalties are higher for a federal conviction.
Criminal Defense Lawyer
Including a Criminal Defense Lawyer with successful experience in the area of Embezzlement is necessary. This is a crime that will carry tough penalties, including jail time. Your attorney should be experienced at both the state and federal court levels. Do not give information to anyone else; your attorney will advise you about what to say and to whom it is okay to discuss your case with. Investigators just want to trip you up by what you might disclose.
It is possible that a skilled embezzlement lawyer could get a pending investigation closed or to remove you from that investigation. Your lawyer can work with prosecutors on a plea bargain to limit your punishment or keep you out of prison. Their main goal is to reduce or limit any felony conviction. In line with the severity of this crime, embezzlement lawyers are expensive. Nonetheless, you need to hire the most qualified Criminal Defense/Embezzlement Lawyer you can find.