Major embezzlement and fraud cases often make a big splash in the media, like the now-infamous Bernie Madoff scandal. While not every person convicted of embezzlement will face a 150-year prison sentence and the same kind of public scrutiny applied in Madoff’s case, embezzlement charges can seriously impact your reputation as a business owner or professional.
That’s why it’s so important to understand what these charges mean if you’re facing a potential conviction. Our Boston white collar crimes attorney at Brad Bailey Law can help you create a powerful legal defense if you’ve been accused. In this post, we’ll touch on a few of the ways you can defend against a charge of embezzlement.
Legal Definition of Embezzlement
Embezzlement is a form of stealing, usually in the context of a business or another type of organization. The key difference between embezzlement and other kinds of theft, however, is that the offender typically has a relationship with the victim, one in which they were supposed to safeguard and maintain the property in question. Offenders can include anyone from a high-ranking bank executive to a cashier at a corner shop: If they are accused of stealing funds or property from their organization, it is considered embezzlement.
Ultimately, penalties for embezzlement depend on how much the alleged offender stole, as well as the specific state’s laws. In Massachusetts, penalties can include up to 5 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. The federal government may also choose to bring charges, especially if there was a large scale embezzlement scheme in play. People with high profile cases may be required to pay millions in fines and restitution – as well as decades of jail time – if they are convicted.
Common Defense Strategies for Embezzlement
Embezzlement charges are serious, but they’re not impossible to defend. Oftentimes, there is just not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the embezzlement occurred during the timeframe and in the amounts claimed. More than 40% of federal embezzlement charges are ultimately dropped for this very reason.
Here are some other defenses you may be able to make against embezzlement charges:
- You were facing duress or coercion, and would lose your job if you did not embezzle the funds.
- Your organization routinely committed embezzlement and other forms of white collar crime.
- You were unaware that illegal activity was taking place, due to the fact that multiple other parties were involved in the embezzlement scheme.
- You did not intend to deceive anyone or commit a crime, and at the time, you believed you were the actual property owner for the assets detailed in the embezzlement charges.
- You attempted to repay some of the embezzlement losses and mitigate the damage.
While your defense may vary, and it may not ultimately be able to prevent a conviction, providing a solid legal defense for your embezzlement charges can help mitigate the long-term consequences. With the right Boston white collar crimes lawyer, you can act to protect your reputation and your resources from claims of embezzlement, and protect your future in the process.
Contact Brad Bailey Law at 617-500-0252 to speak with our experienced and aggressive criminal defense team. We have more than 35 years of proven experience in white collar crimes cases at both the federal and state level.