What are the Defenses for Embezzlement?
Theft crimes, such as embezzlement, are often considered white-collar crimes. Although there is no physical injury, it would be a mistake to assume a judge will go lightly on someone convicted of a financial crime.
Financial Crimes and Their Penalties
Embezzlement is property theft and is considered to be a white-collar crime. It can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. A charge occurs when someone entrusted to manage or keep track of someone else’s money or property allegedly steals all or part of that money or property for their own personal gain. The key element to the offense is that the person had legal access to the money or property, but not legal ownership. The “position of trust” element of embezzlement charges differs from stealing. The most common example of embezzlement is a cashier accused of taking money from the till. However, there are many other ways to commit embezzlement, such as a public official taking money entrusted to them by virtue of their job, an employee taking the property or inventory of an employer, a corporate employee diverting an employer’s assets, or the banker diverting a deposit or transfer of funds. The defenses for embezzlement charges are complex; however, a savvy embezzlement lawyer can craft a winning defense.
When charged or accused of embezzlement, your best defense is to work with an experienced, aggressive, and effective Michigan embezzlement defense attorney. We can help you understand the possible penalties and devise a plan to avoid jail.
The Possible Penalties for Embezzlement
The possible penalties for embezzlement vary according to the value or type of property allegedly taken, as well as the position of the person accused of the crime. There is the possibility of increased penalties for people with prior felony convictions. The various defenses for embezzlement charges can operate to reduce or eliminate charges.
- Money or property worth less than $200: the possible penalty is a fine up to $500, up to three times the property’s value embezzled, up to 93 days in jail, or both. If the embezzlement occurred from a no-profit corporation or charity, or the person has one or more prior theft-related convictions, penalties are increased to a fine of up to $2000, or three times the amount embezzled whichever is greater, up to one (1) year in jail, or both.
- Money or property worth more than $200 but less than $1000: the possible fine is up to $2000, or three times the value of the property, up to one year in jail, or both. If the embezzlement occurred from a nonprofit or charity, or there are one or more prior convictions, penalties increase to a fine of $10,000, or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater, up to five years in prison, or both.
- Money or property worth more than $1000 but less than $20,000: the possible fine is up to $10,000 or three times the property’s, whichever is greater, up to five years in prison, or both. Fines and incarceration increase if the property was taken from a charity or nonprofit corporation.
- Money or property worth $20,000 but less than $50,000: a possible fine of up to $15,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater; up to 10 years in prison; or both.
The penalties increase with the monetary value of the money or property allegedly taken. If the target of the embezzlement is one person or business – the court can add the value of all the property supposedly stolen without a time limit. Penalties can also increase depending on the relationship between the accused and the property owner. For instance, embezzlement by a public officer of $50 or more can result in a $5000 fine, up to ten years in prison, or both. One of the defenses for embezzlement charges is a claim of right. If the defense lawyer can show that their client had a right to some of the property or funds, the court or prosecutor will have to reduce the charges.
The Best Defense Against Embezzlement Charges is Pre-Charge Intervention
If someone is accused of embezzlement, the best defense is to hire pre-charge representation before the embezzlement charges are filed in court. The defense attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have represented hundreds of clients facing embezzlement charges in courts throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for building strong, credible defenses on behalf of clients. Because of our prominence in this area, police and prosecutors will consider evidence we submit before filing charges. If we can convince the government that our client is innocent or that there is a better alternative to prosecution, such as reimbursement for losses and related expenses, we might be able to prevent felony embezzlement charges. Also, we have negotiated with employers countless times to settle embezzlement allegations, and criminal charges were never filed.
Other Possible Penalties and Risks
In addition to possible incarceration, the court can also order that you serve a period of intensive probation, be tested for drugs/alcohol, get counseling, and not accept any work that involves being around or taking money, to name a few. Felony probation can be as long as five years.
There are also penalties beyond those a court can impose. There are collateral consequences to an embezzlement conviction. The personal risks include damage to your reputation, employability, ability to get credit, get or keep a professional license, and more. A conviction for theft, embezzlement, or a crime of dishonesty has collateral consequences and can impact you permanently in a tragic way. For a person who is not a United States citizen, an embezzlement charge might result in immigration issues, such as deportation or the inability to re-enter the United States.
Highly Experienced Michigan Embezzlement Defense Attorney
When a person faces criminal charges, the primary concern is, “am I going to jail?” The criminal defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have extensive experience with the defense of embezzlement charges in Michigan. We will use our expertise, talents, and reputation for success to ensure that our clients are not sent to jail or at least minimize the risk. Our attorneys will also pull out all the stops to work towards a favorable resolution and will not jeopardize your future. Dismissal of all charges is always our top priority. Dismissal is possible under the right circumstances if all the defenses for embezzlement charges are explored. Achieving reduced or dismissed charges is possible even when there is an admission or overwhelming evidence of guilt.
Because the potential consequences are significant, you need a highly qualified and experienced Michigan theft crimes defense attorney. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has a remarkable record of success in representing people facing theft and fraud crimes and allegations.
Our attorneys often get involved before charges are brought to assist our clients in the legal process. We understand the dangers and possible long-term effects of a conviction and work tirelessly to protect our clients from overzealous police and prosecutors. Our attorneys have the passion, drive, and reputation for leaving no stone unturned to give our clients the highest level of representation they deserve. If you are facing criminal charges, it would be normal to be scared and confused. Call us for a free consultation. Let us answer your questions and ensure you are given the best representation available.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.