On behalf of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry posted in White Collar Crimes on Monday, February 27, 2017.
White collar crimes are taken very seriously and carry heavy penalties. Those who work in industries such as accounting, sales, banking or other fields that involve the handling of money should be aware of the dangers of embezzlement. Someone must have intention in order for their actions to be considered embezzlement, but even accidental mishandling of money can lead to a precarious legal situation. Here’s what employees should know about embezzlement.
What is embezzlement?
Embezzlement is the misuse or theft of money that has been entrusted to someone. Usually this refers to a situation in which your company has given you the responsibility of handling company finances. An example of embezzlement would be transferring funds to fake customers or clients in order to take that money for yourself.
What if I accidentally misused money?
Some cases of fraud or theft are honest mistakes. Maybe you spent company money on something that you thought was acceptable but it turned out to be misuse of those funds. An accident might still be considered theft, but in order to be considered embezzlement, a few criteria must be present:
· A fiduciary relationship must exist
· You must have received money or property through this relationship
· You must have taken ownership of the money or property, or given it to someone else
· Your actions must have intent
Even if the first three criteria are met, you did not engage in embezzlement if you had no intent of stealing from the company.
What are the penalties?
If someone is charged with embezzlement, the consequences are harsh, even if the sum stolen was not significant. Any offense of embezzlement can result in jail time and fines, as well as being marked as a felony on your criminal record. Usually the fine amount depends on the worth of the property or assets embezzled. Court may order fees in addition to a restitution plan to repay the company in full.
If you have been accused of embezzlement, your situation is serious. Whether you had intent in the matter or not, it may be wise to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney with experience in white collar crimes. They can advise you on your situation and build a strong defense against the accusations you face.