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If you find yourself under investigation for embezzlement, expect it to be a whirlwind process. Since prosecutors take these charges seriously, you can expect to have every financial move you have made scrutinized by those hoping to find examples they can point to in order to prove the charges levied against you. In addition, embezzlement charges carry with them the possibility of severe legal penalties that include decades in prison, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and possibly restitution. But perhaps more than anything, being charged with embezzlement will do extensive harm to your reputation, automatically branding you in the minds of many as a person who cannot be trusted. If you are in the process of being investigated for embezzlement, here are some important tips you should keep in mind.
It Can Happen to Anybody
Due to embezzlement being the most common white-collar crime, many people think only those in high positions within major corporations face embezzlement investigations. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Whether you are a bank teller in a small local bank, treasurer of your child’s PTA, or perhaps a well-respected financial services professional in your community, embezzlement investigations can happen to anyone at anytime. Therefore, should you be paid a visit by a federal agent, served with a search warrant of your home, or actually arrested for the crime, always rely on the expert advice of skilled and knowledgeable defense attorneys who have experience handling such cases.
The Elements of Embezzlement
For investigators to charge you with embezzlement, they must be able to show the alleged crime had the four essential elements of embezzlement. These include you being in a position of trust with another party, acquiring money or property while in that position of trust, taking money or property solely for your own benefit, and doing so intentionally, meaning it was your conscious objective to take the money or property for your own benefit. While this may sound easy to prove, it is not. Since there is technically no specific crime of Embezzlement found in federal criminal law, prosecutors will instead rely on various statutes pertaining to bank, wire, mail, or securities fraud. Since it can be a complex process determining what did or did not violate a statute as well as whether any of the alleged acts were done on purpose, never assume you will automatically be found guilty. Instead, immediately after being put under investigation for embezzlement, hire an attorney skilled in handling these matters and protecting the rights of their clients.
As in any situation where you are charged with a federal crime, the penalties for embezzlement can be very severe. Once a case is put in the hands of a jury, you as the defendant can never be completely sure how the jury will rule on your case. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you may be facing maximum sentences of 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000. Along with this, if the jury should determine your actions were egregious toward the victim, there may be restitution or punitive damages to be paid. This, coupled with the damage to your reputation and the emotional harm to your family, can be devastating. Rather than let investigators and prosecutors steamroll over you and intimidate you into doing or saying things that can harm your case and seal your legal fate, work with a trusted defense attorney who can carefully examine evidence and negotiate with prosecutors prior to your case making it to trial.
Always Have Your Lawyer Present
When you are charged with embezzlement or any type of crime, law enforcement agents and prosecutors always jump at the chance to question confused, scared, and bewildered suspects without an attorney being present. If you make this mistake, you will almost always make many incriminating statements, all of which will be used against you. In addition, you may be coerced into signing a confession or agreeing to a deal that will not be beneficial to your case. Therefore, even if investigators and prosecutors are pressing hard for you to explain yourself, never do so until you have your attorney by your side. By remembering this one important detail, you may save yourself and your family tremendous embarrassment, as well as keep yourself out of prison.
Though the allegations made against you in these cases can be staggering and potentially very severe, it does not mean you should start planning on a long stay in prison. From proving you were in a position of trust to having evidence you took money intentionally and for your benefit, prosecutors have a far tougher case ahead of them than they let on. Therefore, never hesitate to contact an experienced defense attorney once you are put under investigation for embezzlement.