Embezzlement Defense Attorney in Michigan
Embezzlement is considered a serious crime because it involves more than just alleged stealing. Embezzlement specifically requires the defendant to have stolen or appropriated money or any other thing of value from someone who entrusted them with the money or property.
What exactly is embezzlement?
The definition of embezzlement in the statute is somewhat complex and was written to be read by people familiar with legal terminology. In basic terms, embezzlement is when an employee is accused of stealing or giving away property of their employer. In other words, he or she must have been in a position of trust, such as an accountant, cashier, treasurer, stock clerk, or a bank teller, for a few examples. Of course, many types of positions could qualify, as long as the defendant was in a position of trust that enabled him or her to have access to money or property that other people would not ordinarily have.
Embezzlement victims are typically governmental agencies, companies, charities, and any other defined organizations. Because of the influence businesses have on politicians and courts, defendants charged with embezzlement will face aggressive prosecutors and stiff punishments.
Penalties for Embezzlement
Potential embezzlement penalties are stepped up based on the value of what was allegedly embezzled.
- Value Less than $200.00: 93-day misdemeanor, 2 years of probation, and a $500.00 fine or 3 times the value of the embezzlement, whichever is greater.
- Value Between $200.00 and $1,000.00: 1-year misdemeanor, 2 years of probation, and a $2,000.00 fine or 3 times the value of the embezzlement, whichever is greater.
- Value Between $1,000.00 and $20,000.00: 5-year felony, 5 years of probation, and a fine of $10,000.00 or 3 times the value of the embezzlement, whichever is greater.
- Value Between $20,000.00 and $50,000.00: 10-year felony, 5 years of probation, and a fine of $15,000.00 or 3 times the value of the embezzlement, whichever is greater.
- Value Between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00: 15-year felony, 5 years of probation, and a fine of $25,000.00 or 3 times the value of the embezzlement, whichever is greater.
- Value $100,000.00 or More: 20-year felony, 5 years of probation, and a fine of $50,000.00 or 3 times the value of the embezzlement, whichever is greater.
Prior Convictions and Certain Victims – Enhanced Penalties
The embezzlement penalties can be increased in any category if the defendant has prior convictions for embezzlement or if the victim was a nonprofit or charitable organization. If a defendant is convicted of embezzlement involving a “vulnerable adult” and one or more other offenses at the same time, a judge may impose a consecutive sentence for the embezzlement conviction. Consecutive means that any jail or prison sentence on the embezzlement conviction would not begin until the defendant completes any sentence imposed on the other charges. The alleged victim is considered “vulnerable” if he or she was over 60 years old or was otherwise legally diminished.
Defenses to Embezzlement Charges
A highly experienced criminal defense lawyer knows that embezzlement cases are typically complicated and based on a paper trail. This trail could be composed of accounting logs, cashier logs, bank records, or cell phone records, all of which require admissibility in court through proper witnesses and with adequate evidentiary foundation. Collecting admissible evidence is not always easy for a prosecutor to do, and a retained lawyer will not let the government cut corners on following the rules. A reputable and savvy defense attorney would challenge the evidence at every turn to make sure his or her client’s rights were protected and make sure no evidence would be admitted unless a proper foundation was laid to get it in. If the evidence does not get in, the charges are dismissed, and the case is thrown out of court.
Examples of defense attacks on prosecution evidence might include:
- The prosecution witness is not the person with legal custody of the records and is not qualified to be the one to get them introduced;
- The alleged evidence was seized in violation of Constitutional rights or legal rules;
- A confession, if there allegedly was one, was improperly obtained in violation of the defendant’s Constitutional rights or other legal protections;
- The alleged embezzlement was simply an honest mistake, such as an accounting error, not a theft;
- The property allegedly embezzled is not of the value the prosecutor assigned to it;
- The money or property was not converted to the defendant’s own use, as required by the statute.
What can an attorney do when there is no defense to an embezzlement charge?
When clients come to LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., they often tell us they were “caught red-handed” and that they’ve already confessed. They want to know, “should I just plead guilty and save the cost of an attorney?” The answer is, absolutely not! There is still hope for you. First of all, let the attorney decide whether the case is winnable or not. Even if the evidence appears overwhelming, and even if a confession was obtained, an astute and tenacious defense attorney can still help and may be able to get the evidence thrown out of court or get the prosecutor to see things in a different light.
Furthermore, a top-rated defense attorney would spare no effort to prevail upon the prosecutor to dismiss or reduce charges, even in those cases where the crime was clearly committed. Additionally, a highly qualified and successful lawyer will know the strategies to win, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Many times, serious felony embezzlement charges can be reduced to a misdemeanor if the right arguments are made, and restitution is agreed upon.
What if I am accused of embezzlement but not charged?
If your employer or former employer has accused you of embezzlement, you must act quickly to protect yourself. The worst possible mistake you could make would be to do nothing and wait and see what happens. Doing nothing and waiting it out could have disastrous consequences. You should not talk to anyone about the accusations, even if you’re innocent. Do not make any admissions, do not agree to pay money back, do not deny anything…say nothing. Remember, anything you say, “can and will be used against you.” A seasoned defense lawyer, with experience representing people on a pre-charge basis, will know the right moves to reduce your chances of being charged. Lawyers who advise you not to do anything until you are charged are doing you a disservice, and their poor advice can result in criminal charges that could have been avoided. Police frequently suggest that if you “pay back the money,” you can avoid charges. This is a lie and a trick! If you pay back the money, the police will consider the payment an admission, and that makes felony or misdemeanor charges more likely. Hiring a lawyer does NOT make you look guilty; it makes you look smart and pragmatic. You cannot be charged based on “looks.” Do not trust your fate to prayers or a budget lawyer; get expert help immediately.
Trusted Top-Rated Embezzlement Michigan Defense Firm
The Defense Team at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience in fending off embezzlement charges. They have negotiated very favorable resolutions to embezzlement cases that most attorneys would have considered lost causes. The judges and prosecutors throughout Michigan know our firm and have respect for it because we are in court daily. Judges have seen the extraordinary level of professionalism and compassion we embody. Our zealous, experienced attorneys have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-deserved reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation while showing personalized empathy and care for each client.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.