Help! What Should I Do If I’ve Been Accused of Embezzlement? 

Being accused of a crime can be life-altering. An accusation of embezzlement questions your character and threatens your livelihood. Continue reading to learn more about what to do if you’ve been accused of embezzlement. 

What is Embezzlement? 

Embezzlement is the fraudulent taking of personal property by someone to whom it was entrusted. The difference between larceny and embezzlement is that the money taken by embezzlement was initially entrusted to the embezzler through legal channels. There are many different schemes that fall under the umbrella of embezzlement. 

Examples of Embezzlement 

Embezzlement can take many different forms as the transaction of money in the business and private sector varies so much. Basically, if money is changing hands for any reason, embezzlement can occur. Some of the most common examples of embezzlement include: 

Employee Theft: This type of embezzlement includes employees misappropriating funds or assets from their employers. Skimming cash out of the cash register, pocketing cash payments, overbilling customers, and forging payments are all examples of employee embezzlement. 

Corporate Fraud: This occurs within corporate institutions where higher-ranking employees misuse company resources for personal gain. Padding expense reports, diverting money to personal accounts, and selling trade secrets are examples of this type of embezzlement. 

Financial Advisor Misconduct: A financial advisor is entrusted with a client’s money and given direct access to financial information making embezzlement easy. This type of embezzlement can simply include directing money out of your account and into a personal account. A more complex form of this type of embezzlement is setting up a ponzi scheme. 

Non-Profit Organization Fraud: This type of embezzlement can happen at any time, but is most prevalent following a high-profile disaster. Setting up a fake charity organization and keeping any donations is one example of non-profit organization embezzlement. Non-profit organizations often have looser financial controls, and tend to be more trusting of employees than for profit organizations, leading to an increased misappropriation of funds. 

Government Corruption: When public money is taken by a public official by anyone not specified by the public, government embezzlement has occurred. A specific example would be a public official assigning public employees to renovate their own house. 

Is Embezzlement a Felony? 

In most cases, the value of the items stolen determines the degree to which the crime is punished. The lower the amount embezzled, the lower the punishment. For example, embezzling $200 will result in a fine, probation and a misdemeanor charge, whereas embezzling $75K or more will result in a long prison term, a hefty fine of $150K or more, and a felony charge. 

What Should I Do If I’m Accused of Embezzlement? 

If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, your first course of action should be to hire a competent, experienced lawyer. You should be honest with your lawyer and tell them all of the details surrounding the case against you. A skilled lawyer will ask you the right questions and help develop a strong defense to the accusations. 

What Needs to be Proven? 

The prosecution does need to prove you intended to commit the crime, not only that a crime was committed. It is also necessary to prove the following in an embezzlement offense according to federal code:

  • A relationship involving trust (fiduciary) existed between the defendant and some organization, agency or entity
  • The defendant cared for or possessed the property by “by virtue of his/her employment”
  • The actions of the defendant were unlawful and appropriated or converted the property for their use
  • The actions of the defendant deprived the rightful owner of controlling the property

“Property” as mentioned in the above bullet points is anything with a perceived value that may be intangible. In the case of embezzlement, the property is money. 

A Strong Defense

Embezzlement charges can be met with defenses. Just because you’ve been charged with an offense does not mean that you have to accept that charge and the information presented by the prosecution at trial. A competent defense attorney will craft a defense strategy tailored to the charges against you. 

Who Should I Contact in New Jersey if I’ve Been Accused of Embezzlement? 

With over four decades of experience, The Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot has the knowledge necessary to handle the most complex criminal cases at the state level, as well as complex federal criminal cases. We form  relationships with our clients and work hard to provide personalized, professional service. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, let us work for you and provide the best defense possible against those charges. 

The Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot are experienced criminal defense attorneys. Reach out today to find the help you need with your defense.