Embezzlement Defense Attorney
in Fort Myers, Florida
Accused of embezzlement? Our federal criminal lawyers can help
Those who follow the news are most familiar with embezzlement as a result of hearing stories about corporate and government scandals. Embezzlement is a white-collar crime that occurs when an employee or public official withholds or misappropriates entrusted money or assets. These individuals hold a trusted position, and they leverage that trust for personal gain. For people who are accused of embezzlement, there can be lasting consequences even if the individual did not commit the crime. The individual may struggle to advance in his or her career because there may still be lingering questions about whether he or she can really be trusted. Obtaining legal representation the moment accusations arise can help individuals who are accused of this crime their reputation and potentially avoid prison time and hefty fines. Fort Myers embezzlement defense lawyers at Joffe Law, PA. are available to represent individuals who are under investigation for embezzlement as well as those who have been formally charged.
The elements of embezzlement
There are four elements of embezzlement that prosecutors are required to prove when pursuing criminal charges against a defendant. They are:
- the money or property was owned by the victim, not the embezzler
- the victim authorized the embezzler to make day-to-day business transactions with the money or property
- the victim had a high level of trust for the victim
- the defendant intentionally misappropriated the money or property
A fiduciary relationship is at the center of every embezzlement case. A fiduciary relationship between two parties calls for one party to have a sense of duty or obligation to act for the benefit of the other within the defined scope of the relationship. One party entrusts the other with the task of handling valuable assets in a reliable manner. The entrusted party may act as a financial advisor or custodian. Employees also often owe a fiduciary duty to their employers. Merely handing a valuable asset over to someone else does not automatically create a fiduciary duty.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Types of embezzlement
There are countless ways people engage in embezzlement. Most cases can be classified into six main categories.
Siphoning usually begins with small amounts of money. This type of embezzlement occurs when a cashier or other employee who works with cash intentionally pockets the money that should otherwise be in a business’ cash drawer or register. The employee siphons small amounts of money over time. The employee’s misconduct is most often discovered when the employee’s cash drawer doesn’t balance properly.
Individuals who make purchases for an organization engage in embezzlement if they receive kickbacks. A kickback is a payment a representative from the company pays an employee at another company who is responsible for making purchasing decisions. The payment is intended to personally incentivize the employee at the purchasing company to continue making purchases from the vendor. Employees may be surprised to learn they may be charged with embezzlement because kickback payments do not come from the employer, but are instead paid by an outside company.
Corporate check kiting
Check kiting occurs when an individual makes deposits and withdrawals between several banks. This practice takes advantage of the “float” or the amount of time it takes for a check that has been deposited to clear its origin account. Corporate check kiting occurs when a manager or business owner deposits a bad check and immediately spends or earns interest on the funds before the bank realizes the check will not clear.
Individuals who work in accounts receivable engage in lapping when they reallocate funds to cover up money they have misappropriated. Lapping schemes are usually detected upon the realization that cash receipts have been incorrectly applied to certain customer accounts. Individuals who engage in lapping typically do not take vacation time because they have to be present daily to continue to cover up the theft. Eventually, the theft is uncovered and has to eventually be recorded as a loss.
Employees embezzle payroll funds by taking personal payments directly from the company’s payroll. Managers achieve this type of embezzlement by adding family members or others who are not directly employed by the company to the payroll. Next, the employee will either have the family member cash the check, or the employee will cash the check and keep the cash for his or her own purposes. Payroll embezzlement happens more often in labor-intensive lines of work at companies that consistently hire large numbers of employees.
Another way employees embezzle funds is by falsifying overtime records. Employees achieve this by allowing the time clock to continue to run after they have left work. Managers can alter overtime records by manually changing timecard records. Many employers refer to this time of embezzlement as stealing time.
Potential defenses against an embezzlement charge
Individuals who have been charged with embezzlement may be able to avoid criminal court convictions if a criminal defense lawyer successfully defends the accused against the charge. Common defenses to embezzlement include:
- absence of intent to embezzle
- the defendant was under duress
- a government agent compelled the defendant (entrapment)
- the defendant lacked the mental or physical capacity to commit the crime
- the defendant took the money or property in good faith
A federal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale can evaluate the accused party’s case and determine which defense strategy is most appropriate. Defense attorneys can also help people who are under investigation prior to being charged and people who have been convicted and are looking to file an appeal.
Reach an embezzlement defense lawyer
Our criminal defense attorney is available to represent individuals who are facing an embezzlement charge. Sentencing for embezzlement in Florida can range from a misdemeanor sentence to a first-degree felony. In cases that involve the U.S. government, the defendant may be charged in federal court and face more severe sentencing.
Contact our Fort Myers embezzlement defense attorney to learn more about your legal options. Your personal information will remain confidential. Call us today to receive a free case evaluation.