What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is one of the most common white-collar crimes in the US. A person may face federal embezzlement charges if there are allegations that they, being in a position of trust or having fiduciary duty to another, deliberately took money or property belonging to their ‘charge’ without their permission or authorization.
These fiduciary relationships typically occur in a vast majority of business, industrial and organizational relationships. The individual will have access to another persons’ money/property to use, monitor, control or otherwise manage for the benefit of the owner(s).
This control can also become criminal, e.g. with Ponzi schemes, where there’s falsifying records, billing fraudulently, etc. However, anybody in that line of work can face embezzlement charges including bank tellers, supervisors, clerks, accountants, etc.
Whether a person is facing embezzlement charges at state or federal level, a conviction on the same can result in stiff penalties, including many years’ jail time and huge fines. In Federal Court, embezzlement charges can be prosecuted according to the applicable statures which are Securities (US.C. Sec 1348), Mail (1341), Wire (1343) or Bank (1344) fraud.
There are also regulations on conspiracy crimes, grand larceny crimes and white collar crimes, and these can be prosecuted in the NY state level or federal level according to the facts of the case.
The general principle behind prosecuting a person following embezzlement charges involves the following elements.
- There must exist a trust or fiduciary relationship between the parties.
- The accused must have gotten the property/funds in the course of fulfilling the fiduciary duties or in their position of trust.
- The accused must have acquired the money/property for their own benefit, or benefit of a party other than the rightful owner of the property/money.
- The accused must have done so deliberately i.e. made a conscious decision to violate his/her fiduciary duty or trust to take the property/money to benefit him/herself.
In order to secure a conviction, the prosecution must show that all four existed, which in turn means that in defense, the embezzlement defense attorney may prove that any one of the elements did not exist, which therefore means that the accused person could not have been guilty of the crime.
There is no specific crime called embezzlement under federal or NY State law. The crime is therefore prosecuted under the relevant statutes as stated above. However, these crimes typically allow for a maximum sentence of 20 years and $250,000 in fines depending on the exact charge and the value of the amount that was embezzled by the defendant.
Defense for Embezzlement Charges
Regardless of the stage at which you find out you may be facing embezzlement charges, you need to act quickly, wisely and decisively to ensure you have the best chance of mounting a strong defense. The first and most important step is to hire a qualified and experienced embezzlement defense attorney.
Call the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel, Esq. to set up your free case evaluation. Until then, do not speak to any police officers or investigators without having an attorney present. The potential penalties you’re facing could permanently ruin your life. Call us for the professional representation you need.