Hollywood Embezzlement Defense Lawyers
Sometimes, there are situations where people need to trust their money or assets to another party. This could be the executor of an estate, a trustee for a trust fund, or an accountant who is handling their business finances. If something happens where it appears that the person has misused those funds or taken money for other purposes than intended, embezzlement charges can result. Learn what embezzlement is, what it means if you’ve been accused, and how to defend yourself against these charges below.
If you are under investigation for embezzlement or are already facing arrest, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The attorneys at Magilligan Law can help you understand what you’re up against, ensure you’re aware of your rights and defense options, and advocate for you in court.
What Is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is when someone who has been entrusted with another person’s money or property uses that money inappropriately — usually for personal financial gain. For example, someone who is doing accounting for a business may have access to the business’ bank accounts so that they can ensure the bills are paid. If the person uses those funds for their own personal purchases, this would qualify as embezzlement.
Embezzlement can come in many forms, but the two most common are to either take one large lump sum or to continually take a small percentage. Embezzlement charges are usually actually theft charges of some sort in the state of Florida and can be either petit theft or grand theft.
What Is Required for an Embezzlement Conviction in Florida?
Every crime has specific things that the prosecution must prove to be able to win their case, and embezzlement charges are no different. There are four main pillars that the prosecution will need to prove to the jury to win a conviction:
- The establishment of a fiduciary or trust relationship. This establishes that the defendant had a duty to ensure that the assets in their trust were properly handled.
- The defendant gained access to the money through the fiduciary relationship. This establishes that the funds or property in question were part of the fiduciary relationship.
- The defendant either took the money for personal gain or transferred it to someone else without permission. This establishes that the funds were handled inappropriately or without consent.
- The defendant acted intentionally. This establishes that the defendant understood that they were using the funds inappropriately and were in breach of the fiduciary relationship.
Each of these factors must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the criminal court system to secure an embezzlement conviction, and each one is also an opportunity for the defense to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
What Is the Sentence If I’m Convicted of Embezzlement?
While it’s technically possible for embezzlement to be charged as a misdemeanor, these allegations usually involve significant amounts of money. In most cases, embezzlement will be charged as a felony, but the degree of the felony depends on the value of the property that was taken, as follows:
- Third-degree felony: $300 to $20,000
- Second-degree felony: $20,000 to $100,000
- First-degree felony: $100,000 or more
The potential sentences for these charges are:
- Third-degree felony: Up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony: Up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- First-degree felony: Up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
When you meet with your attorney, they will discuss with you what your charges are and what the potential sentence could be if you’re convicted. Keep in mind that these are maximum sentences, and it’s possible that even if convicted, you could get a more lenient sentence.
Could I Face Other Charges?
Embezzlement investigations are complex, and it can be years between when the authorities start investigating and when they actually arrest and charge someone. Because of this level of investigation and time and the fact that these are financial crimes, it’s not uncommon for defendants to face multiple other charges in addition to theft charges related to the alleged embezzlement. Other common charges in these cases include:
- Money laundering
- Tax evasion
- Falsification of records
The charges may also depend on whether it is a state- or federal-level case. Just one felony charge is serious, but if you’re facing multiple charges, you need the experience and knowledge of a criminal defense attorney who deals with white-collar crimes.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Any time you are facing criminal charges, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. While your first call after arrest should definitely be to a criminal defense attorney, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as you are aware that there is an investigation going on. It’s common for detectives to want to speak with you or ask you questions in an attempt to build evidence before they formally charge you, and talking with authorities without an attorney present can cause great harm to your case later on. Once you’ve been arrested, hiring a defense attorney may help you avoid having to stay in jail while you await trial, as they can ask the judge that you be released on bond.
When you’re dealing with serious charges like embezzlement, you need a legal team that has experience with these types of charges and knows what it takes to go up against the prosecution. At Magilligan Law, we help our clients defend themselves and protect their rights against these allegations. To find out more or to schedule a free 15-minute case evaluation, call 954-866-8058.