Legal representation for embezzlement charges in Florida and the United States
Many people have heard of the crime of embezzlement but most do not know exactly what it is. In fact, in Florida, there is no distinct statute outlining the crime of embezzlement. Instead, embezzlement is charged as a general property theft, leading to even more confusion over the crime.
Our experienced West Palm Beach embezzlement attorneys are well-versed in the nuances of embezzlement crimes and are available to discuss your case and provide top-notch legal defense to anyone charged with embezzlement in West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas.
When a person is in a position of trust and uses that position to steal money or property from another party, he can be charged with embezzlement. Under Florida law, embezzlement crimes are charged under Florida’s property theft statute, § 812.014.
The key difference between embezzlement and other theft-related crimes is that a regular property theft involves taking property that does not belong to you, whereas embezzlement entails misappropriating property to which you were entrusted. Examples include:
An employee is responsible for taking cash from a business and depositing it into the bank. He is lawfully in possession of the cash on his way to the bank, but takes some of it for himself and only deposits a portion of the amount.
An employee processes customer refunds in cash. Instead of depositing the full amount back into the company’s cash register, she takes the refunds for herself.
An attorney holds her client’s funds in an escrow account and uses those funds for her personal use.
A bank teller who takes customers’ deposits and pockets the money instead of depositing it into the appropriate accounts.
The penalties for embezzlement depend largely on the amount that a defendant allegedly took. The charges and the associated penalties will be greater the larger the amount taken.
While Florida recently changed its laws so that the threshold for when a person can be charged with embezzlement now starts at $750 (up from just $300), the threshold remains very low and it is possible to be charged with embezzlement for the theft of a relatively small amount.
The three felony embezzlement crimes are the following:
Embezzlement of more than $100,000: first degree felony. Maximum penalty of up to thirty years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Embezzlement of $20,000 to $99,999: second degree felony. Maximum penalty of up to fifteen years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Embezzlement of $750 to $19,999: third degree felony. Maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Be sure to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the possible repercussions of your embezzlement charge.
Every case is different, but potential defenses to an embezzlement charge include showing that the defendant had a good faith right to use the property or showing that the owner gave the defendant consent to take the property.
Embezzlement charges carry potentially large fines and imprisonment, so if you have been charged with embezzlement, contact one of our experienced West Palm Beach embezzlement attorneys today to discuss your options.