Man secretly placing large stack of $100 bills in his suit pocket.

Understanding Embezzlement Charges

What is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a crime of trust in which any individual who has lawful access to any type of property or assets uses said access as a means of stealing, misappropriating, or transferring ownership. Charges of embezzlement typically occur when someone who is entrusted to provide expert financial services, such as an accountant, uses his or her specialized skills in conjunction with unsupervised access to assets to enrich himself or herself.

Some people might be surprised to learn that embezzlement can occur in relation to numerous tangible assets rather than just money. Continue reading to learn more about embezzlement charges and how to raise a strong criminal defense in these types of cases. 

What Makes Up a Federal Embezzlement Charge

The offense of embezzlement occurs when a person is given the responsibility of managing or monitoring money that belongs to another individual and steals this money for their personal gain. Given the numerous advances in technology and how companies operate, there is an increasing number of ways in which people can commit embezzlement. Some of the types of offenses that can lead to a person being charged with embezzlement include cash skimming, credit card fraud, misdirecting electronic transfers, and using credentials to steal funds from bank accounts.

Embezzlement is prosecuted at a federal level in several situations. One situation is when embezzlement involves departments of the United States government. Another situation is when a person gains access to federal land or has received money from federal taxpayers.

Federal prosecutors often quickly pursue embezzlement charges because there is a five-year statute of limitations for embezzlement crimes; charges cannot be brought after this five-year window of time has run out.

The Punishments Associated with Embezzlement

If an embezzlement offense involves over $1,000, a person can expect to face felony charges. When the involved amount is less, a person will face a misdemeanor.

When embezzlement involves more than $250,000, a person can face particularly serious felony charges. Embezzlement charges can result in penalties of up to 30 years in prison.

Defenses to Embezzlement Charges

If you face embezzlement charges, there are several defenses that can be raised in response:

  • Duress. The crime of duress occurs when someone believes that they will suffer some type of harm if they do not perform a certain act. If a person can establish that they only performed embezzlement due to duress, they will likely be able to raise a strong defense.
  • Insufficient evidence. A charge of embezzlement can be dismissed if there is not sufficient evidence to prosecute.
  • Incapacity. Some people are able to defend embezzlement charges by establishing that they were mentally incapacitated at the time that the offense occurred.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Because embezzlement can lead to some particularly serious penalties, if you are charged with embezzlement, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact the Federal Criminal Law Center today to speak with an attorney who can help.