How Would the Government Prove an Embezzlement Charge?
Embezzlement is a type of white-collar crime defined as, ‘fraudulent taking of personal property by someone to whom it was entrusted. Most often associated with the misappropriation of money. Embezzlement can occur regardless of whether the defendant keeps the personal property or transfers it to a third party.’
Essentially, this means that embezzlement occurs whenever someone mishandles property that someone else entrusts them with (unlike larceny, which occurs when a person steals from someone else’s account and never had control of the funds in the first place). A common example of embezzlement would be an investment manager who steals from his clients’ accounts.
Understanding Embezzlement Charges
Embezzlement charges are extremely serious. Someone who is found guilty of embezzlement could face jail time, have to pay substantial fines or restitution, and may lose their career and reputation.
Proving Embezzlement Charges
Traditionally, investigators and the prosecution will try to build a case by looking at someone’s personal records for uncharacteristically large deposits. Another indication that someone may be engaging in a white-collar crime is the fact that they are spending more money than what their salary would allow.
However, proving embezzlement or fraud is rarely easy. According to the United States Department of Justice, prosecutors must prove the following four elements in a federal embezzlement case:
- There was a trust or fiduciary relationship between the defendant and the private organization or State or local government agency;
- The property came into the possession or care of the defendant by virtue of his/her employment;
- The defendant's dealings with the property constituted a fraudulent conversion or appropriation of it to his/her own use; and
- The defendant acted with the intent to deprive the owner of the use of this property.
Potential Defenses to an Embezzlement Charge
The world of finances is incredibly complex. Because of this, it’s possible to make an honest mistake or miscalculation when working with large sums of money. When proving an embezzlement case, it must be clear that the defendant intended to misuse funds and commit a crime. An experienced attorney may be able to prove that their client simply made a mistake or acted carelessly.
An attorney may be able to show that their client was only embezzling funds because they or a loved one were under the threat of physical harm.
Sometimes prosecutors are overly aggressive and do not have enough evidence for an embezzlement trial or conviction. If an attorney is able to prove that the government’s case has weak or insufficient evidence, the case could be dismissed.
Entrapment occurs when someone commits a crime that they would not have committed without the presence and influence of law enforcement. Unlike undercover work, which is legal, entrapment must involve some degree of persuasion or coercion.
The Benefits of a Former Federal Prosecutor
As former federal prosecutors, Nick Lotito and Seth Kirschenbaum understand how the prosecution thinks and how they will approach a case. With this knowledge, they’ll craft a defense strategy that emphasizes reasonable doubt by addressing holes in every piece of evidence.
If you’ve been arrested or are being investigated for embezzling funds, the experienced Atlanta law offices of Nick Lotito and Seth Kirschenbaum will provide you with a strong, effective embezzlement defense that protects your rights. Act fast and get proper legal counsel. Contact Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum today at (404) 471-3177 so we can take immediate and effective action.