Have you heard of the term ‘white-collar crime?’ White-collar crime is a nonviolent crime, which usually involves fraud to obtain or avoid losing money. Embezzlement is considered a white-collar crime, which can occur in several different ways. Understanding embezzlement and how it works can help you manage legal charges that can arise due to this crime. You may also need to hire an embezzlement lawyer.
Follow this guide to understand the details behind embezzlement crime, its legal consequences, and when to hire a lawyer for help.
What Is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is a type of white-collar crime that occurs when an individual or organization intentionally misuses assets. It is a type of fraud where the embezzler had access to the funds lawfully. However, they then used the funds for other, unintended purposes.
This is considered a breach of fiduciary responsibility, which is the responsibility of managing the assets of another or a group of people. Embezzlement contains the elements of larceny and fraud, but it depends on your state as to how embezzlement is defined.
Understanding the main types of embezzlement when involved in a case can be helpful. There are many different forms embezzlement can take. These examples are some of the most common forms of embezzlement.
Siphoning is when someone accepts a payment but doesn’t record it. Instead, they keep the transaction money for themselves. Usually, this happens when someone receives the money paid to their employer.
Payroll embezzlement accounts for around 10% of all employee theft cases. This occurs when a person or multiple individuals in charge of payroll take money by falsifying payroll records. This can be by adding loved ones who are not employees or by creating a fictitious employee, known as ghost employee fraud.
Lapping usually occurs in the department responsible for handling vendor and client payments. It involves someone altering accounts receivables to cover theft. It usually involves diverting payments and differs from siphoning because the individual takes from customer accounts to cover activity.
There are many Ponzi schemes that have equated to millions of dollars. It is when someone promises investors high returns but ends up keeping the money instead. Ponzi schemes are also considered a form of investment fraud.
Employees may falsify overtime records for more pay without working the actual time. It can often occur in factories and other places of work where you need to submit timecards. Often it occurs over time, with people pretending to forget to stamp out their timecards and returning later.
It is difficult to evidence that cheque kiting has taken place. It is when someone takes advantage of how long cheques take to register at banks. They make different deposits and withdrawals from other banks until they or the bank stops it.
How Embezzlement Happens
Embezzlement differs from fraud as the individual was entrusted to manage and safeguard funds. Embezzlement does not have to be large; however, often, it does involve significant sums of money.
Embezzlement can also involve other assets along with money and can occur in all industries, including the charity sector. It can also happen privately between individuals and families.
What Type of Crime Is Embezzlement?
As noted, embezzlement is a white-collar crime. Embezzlement crime can be tried in federal or state court. For a federal offense of embezzlement, the crime is directly against the United States Government or involves other federal crimes by those charged with the embezzlement, such as wire fraud.
Each state has its own terms against which it defines embezzlement. For example, in Flordia, embezzlement does not currently have a specific statute. Florida prosecutes under theft statutes, including code section 812.014.
There are several factors that qualify an illegal act as an embezzlement crime. These factors are:
- The individual or company was entrusted with the management of assets
- The property was taken or altered for personal use without consent
- The person had the intention to take ownership of funds
- Evidence of ownership of property
The assets have to belong to someone other than the accused. The accused has to be authorized to handle the money and convert it in some way with intent; it cannot involve simple mistakes. There also has to be evidence that the accused took the property, destroyed it, or gave it away with the intent to remove ownership from the original owner.
Once an embezzlement crime is defined, the charges will also differ depending on the assets’ value. Each state will have its own process for defining the charges. For example, in Florida, there are the following felonies and current charges.
First Degree Felony
A 1st-degree felony charge is for amounts of more than $100,000. There is usually a fine of $10,000. These felonies also can result in up to 30 years in a correctional facility and probation.
Second Degree Felony
A 2nd-degree felony is charged for crimes between $20,000-$100,000. There is also a $10,000 fine. These felonies are punishable with up to 15 years in prison and probation.
Third Degree Felony
There is a $5,000 fine for this embezzlement felony. It is defined by funds of $300-$20,000. There is also a possibility of up to five years in prison and probation.
Embezzlement charges can involve other charges and consequences, such as the suspension of a driver’s license. A judge can suspend your license for around a year. There is also the risk of probation.
For ‘petit theft,’ there are also misdemeanor crimes. Grand theft is what constitutes a felony in Florida.
Misdemeanor crimes can involve fines of between $500-$1,000, along with 60 days to 12 months in jail, depending on whether they are first or second-degree. There are also probation terms of six months or twelve months.
Embezzlement Crime Considerations
If you are charged with an embezzlement crime, it is important to understand the state laws and the specific charges you have received. The best way to do this is to work with an embezzlement lawyer who specializes in dealing with these types of crimes.
For example, in the state of Florida, adjudication of guilt is a formal conviction. You will then be considered a convicted felon under Florida law. This can have severe consequences for your life, even after the charges.
Adjudication of guilt can damage your reputation, make it difficult to obtain employment, and make it challenging to find housing. However, the state court can withhold adjudication, which means the court does not charge the defendant, even with a guilty plea. An embezzlement lawyer can help defend your rights and fight for withholding adjudication.
When To Hire an Embezzlement Lawyer
Being charged with an embezzlement crime can have serious consequences, but you do not need to go through the process alone. There are specialized embezzlement lawyers ready to help defend your rights.
When should you hire an embezzlement lawyer?
The short answer is as soon as possible. If you are accused or charged with a crime, it is time to make contact. You can also work with an embezzlement lawyer if you suspect you will have charges filed against you or you believe you are under investigation.
Benefits of Hiring an Embezzlement Lawyer
Have you been charged with an embezzlement crime? While this can be an overwhelming time, it is important to take action and contact an embezzlement lawyer to assist you. Embezzlement attorneys are specialist criminal defense lawyers who offer the following benefits.
Familiarity With the Legal System
An embezzlement lawyer has the experience to navigate your embezzlement charge with ease, even in court. They know the legal system, processes, and the best approach to defend your case.
They will be able to help you understand your case and guide you through it. They recognize the gravity of charges and how to recognize any loopholes that can be missed without knowledge of the law.
Accurate Paperwork and Quicker Timelines
It is essential to complete any paperwork by the given deadline without mistakes. Embezzlement attorneys will ensure you complete the paperwork correctly and meet all deadlines so you avoid further issues. They will also help keep your case moving, so you can return to your life as soon as possible.
Time and Money Savings
Your freedom is priceless. Embezzlement lawyers will fight for this and to reduce charges. They will keep your case moving, too, so you can save time and money in the long term.
Protect Your Rights
Embezzlement lawyers are dedicated to protecting your rights. They have the experience to create a strong case to defend you. They will ensure you do not get taken advantage of and will fight for the best possible outcome for your case.
How To Find Embezzlement Lawyers
It is important to take the time to find a reputable embezzlement lawyer for your case. Not all lawyers offer the same experience or skills to protect your rights. Follow these tips to help you find the best lawyer to deal with your embezzlement charge.
Check the Area of Specialisation
You want a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in embezzlement crime. They will be familiar with the specific charges that can occur and how best to navigate the process. Plus, they will have had experience with similar embezzlement crimes, meaning they know how to create a strong case for your defense.
Embezzlement Lawyer Experience
White-collar crimes such as embezzlement can have serious consequences for an individual’s life. It can also impact companies and anyone else involved with the charges.
An experienced lawyer will have a better understanding of how to approach your case. They will have more connections with the court system and experience defending clients in court. They will be confident in managing your case and respect the seriousness of obtaining the best outcome for you.
You can also check their educational background and certifications. Certifications indicate that they work to specific quality standards. You should also check their membership to certain associations and their licenses to practice law.
Reputation and Reviews
An embezzlement lawyer may look great on paper, but you want to check their reputation matches their promises. Ask for client testimonials and also check independent reviews. You can also ask people you trust for recommendations of lawyers they have worked with in the past.
Use a Local Lawyer
Using an embezzlement attorney who is based in the state you are in is important for several reasons. Firstly, they should have the correct license to work in the state.
Secondly, they will be familiar with the local laws and possible embezzlement charges. They are more likely to have local connections and be familiar with the judges, legal teams, and other individuals involved in managing embezzlement charges.
A local lawyer is also more accessible. They will be able to attend meetings and proceedings without delays.
Schedule a Consultation
Many embezzlement attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your embezzlement case. They will be able to discuss their fee structure and whether they can take on your case. They will also be able to give specific information based on your case, such as whether any criminal record can be sealed or expunged.
The consultation is also the perfect way to evaluate whether you click with the embezzlement lawyer. They should be able to communicate the law to you with ease and make you feel heard. Their response time and approach to the consultation can be indicative of their way of working with your case.
You want to find an embezzlement lawyer who is excited to work on your case and has the capacity to do so to the best of their ability. A lawyer who is juggling many cases may not have the space to do your case justice.
Hire an Embezzlement Lawyer in Florida
You do not have to handle embezzlement charges alone. A reputable embezzlement lawyer will fight for your rights and seek the best solution for your case.
If you are looking for an embezzlement lawyer in Florida, contact Miksis Law. We are dedicated to helping clients regain control of their lives and exercise their legal rights.
Schedule a free consultation to get started with your embezzlement case.