Embezzlement is a form of theft that occurs when a person entrusted with managing or monitoring another person’s finances or property steals some or all of the assets for their own gain. For example, an employee diverting a company’s funds from the business account to their personal account would be considered embezzlement.
Embezzlement happens when there has been a violation of trust between two parties. Embezzlement of $1,000 or less is considered a misdemeanor offense and might carry a sentence of one year or less in prison. However, any amount above $1000 increases the penalty to a felony and may result in up to 20 years of jail time.
If you’re charged with this type of white-collar crime, here are several defenses you may use.
Proving that the prosecutor was missing important information such as a clear timetable of events or a paper trail is one way someone might defend themself against these charges. Studies show that lack of reasonable evidence accounts for about 40% of dismissals in federal embezzlement cases.
You can also show that you embezzled the assets because someone threatened to harm you or you risked losing your job, thus proving that you were under pressure when committing the crime.
Entrapment occurs when a government entity compels you to commit a crime you would have otherwise not committed. You may be able to win your case if you can prove that such an entity forced you or set you up to embezzle the funds.
Incapacity and insanity are two different defense strategies. Insanity shows that you admit guilt but were suffering from symptoms of a mental illness when committing the crime. Incapacity, on the other hand, shows that you were mentally incapacitated. For example, you might have been under the influence of heavy medication that caused you not to realize that you were embezzling funds.
Absence of intent
The prosecution has to prove intent when making their case. Therefore, a lack of intent may be used for a reasonable defense. You can argue that you thought you were the true owner of the assets in question, and you didn’t realize that they belonged to another party.
You didn’t take the money
This is a straightforward defense. You can show that you didn’t take the funds you’re accused of embezzling and instead used the money for authorized business, not for personal gain.
Repayment is technically not a defense, but if you can prove that you can pay back the money you embezzled, it may mitigate your exposure.
The above are some defense strategies you can use if you’re charged with embezzling money or property. Every defense strategy is different, so it’s important to understand how each applies to your case.