NYC Embezzlement Defense
While most everyone has heard of embezzlement, few are familiar with the elements that must be present to be found guilty of the crime. Considered the most common white-collar crime, there are numerous instances of innocent people being charged with this serious crime. Whether you are a bank clerk, accountant, or even the owner of a company, you may at some point find yourself charged with embezzlement. Since the penalties for an embezzlement conviction include serving time in prison and paying fines of as much as $250,000, it is crucial you have a defense attorney working for you who can create a winning legal strategy. If you are facing these charges, here are some important aspects of your defense.
The Position of Trust Between Parties
If federal agents charge you with embezzlement, they will do so due to the belief that you are serving in a position of trust regarding the finances of another individual or organization. This can take many forms, such as an attorney who is appointed as a guardian yet embezzles the funds of their client, a business executive who launches a Ponzi scheme, or even a person serving as treasurer of a local nonprofit group who steals funds for their own use. Whatever the case may be, agents and prosecutors will need to establish you were in a position of trust to make embezzlement charges stick against you.
Did You Act Intentionally?
Of all the elements needed to prove embezzlement took place, perhaps the most important is showing a person acted with the intention of violating their position of trust and thus took money for their own benefit. While this may sound simple, it can be the most difficult part of an embezzlement charge for prosecutors to prove in court. In many situations, employees or others who may have misunderstood certain rules pertaining to their job or position within an organization may unknowingly commit acts that appear to be embezzlement, when in fact they are honest mistakes. To make this a viable defense, you will need an attorney on your side who understands the elements of embezzlement charges, can examine the evidence against you, and successfully argue your case in court.
Since there is actually no crime of embezzlement under federal criminal law, prosecutors will have to rely on various statutes pertaining to bank, mail, securities, or wire fraud to prove their case. Due to the many complexities and variances within these statutes, it can be very easy for an innocent person to be charged with this crime. For example, you could be convicted of insider trading even if you were not an employee of the company in question. In fact, if you simply overhear non-public information and use it for financial gain, prosecutors could hold you liable for insider trading. This sounds impossible to most people, until federal agents appear with a search warrant, subpoena, or arrest warrant. Rather than face this situation wondering what will happen next, always rely on the experience and knowledge of defense attorneys who have a track record of success proving their clients were innocent of all charges against them.
From Witness to Target
In some situations where embezzlement charges are pursued against an individual, it is due to them initially being a witness for a case. However, while they may think they are helping fill in the details of alleged illegal activity, agents and prosecutors may be looking at them more as a target of the investigation rather than a witness. Unfortunately, you won’t know about this until you are being arrested for crimes you did not commit. When this happens, agents and prosecutors will seize on your confusion in an attempt to have you confess to various criminal acts, often without you having an attorney present. Should you make the mistake of saying anything incriminating under these conditions, your attorney can use this as an important part of your defense. By being able to prove you were coerced or intimidated into making certain statements when all you were trying to do was help officials with an investigation, your defense attorney can present a strong argument for your innocence to the court.
Professional or Managerial Discretion
Depending upon your position within a company or relationship with an individual, you may have a certain degree of professional or managerial discretion concerning how funds are to be used. However, this can be used against you by prosecutors seeking an embezzlement conviction. Therefore, you should always hire the services of a skilled federal criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible once charges are brought against you. By doing so, you can have discussions with your attorney as to your various duties and the responsibilities given to you by others. In doing so, key evidence can emerge to prove your innocence.
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