Defining the Crime of Embezzlement
When facing these situations, many defendants are confused by the fact that federal criminal law does not actually contain the crime of embezzlement. Instead, defendants are usually prosecuted under various statutes concerning wire, securities, bank, or mail fraud. Since each of these statutes contains many different requirements as to what actually constitutes a crime took place, even the smallest piece of evidence can take a case from looking hopeless to one where your attorney can have the charges reduced or dismissed.
Can Prosecutors Prove the Elements of Embezzlement?
To win their case, prosecutors must be able to prove the four key elements of embezzlement took place. The first of these is that you as the defendant were in a position of trust with another individual, company, or organization regarding the handling or oversight of money or property. Next, it must be shown you acquired the money or property in question while acting in your capacity within the position of trust. Third, prosecutors must show you took money or property while in that position of trust for your own benefit. Finally, it must be proven that you made a conscious decision to take money or property from another party while in your position of trust, and did so with the intention of improving yourself financially.
How Sentencing Guidelines are Used
When facing embezzlement charges, federal sentencing guidelines will play a huge factor in the type of sentence that could be handed down against you. In many situations, courts and juries will be asked to take into account just how much managerial or professional discretion you as the defendant had while in your position of trust. For example, if you were an accountant who stole money from your company or you were a bank loan officer who falsified records to create a fraudulent loan scheme, your actions may be looked at more harshly than perhaps a bank teller who embezzled funds. Yet whatever situation you may be facing, never assume anything. Instead, hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is committed to having your legal rights protected no matter what prosecutors may attempt.
No Guarantees Regarding Sentences
If you have made the mistake of speaking with authorities on your own, admitting guilt to embezzlement, and agreed to accept a deal that was presented to you, the result may be a situation far worse than you imagined. Under federal sentencing guidelines, even if you have an agreement with prosecutors on a sentence, there is no guarantee you will actually receive the agreed-upon sentence. In these situations, District Judges have tremendous leeway when it comes to determining the sentence defendants should receive if found guilty of embezzlement. In fact, the judge will usually instruct the Federal Department of Probation to prepare a pre-sentencing report on you, detailing such things as family history, work history, prior criminal history if any, and much more. As a result, anything can happen as your case works its way through the courts. Therefore, have an attorney on your side who not only understands this process, but is also prepared to argue vigorously on your behalf.
Use Your Best Judgment
When you are in the process of being sentenced for embezzlement, it is vital you exercise good judgment at all times. By doing so, you give your lawyer the best possible chance of negotiating to make sure you receive as lenient a sentence as possible. Since the pre-sentencing report will be a crucial part of your sentencing, do everything possible to work with your attorney during this process. While it may be embarrassing for certain personal details to be made available in this report, doing so can open up the possibility of a lighter sentence. While it may be hard to do so under the circumstances, always put your best foot forward in these situations and do everything asked of you by your attorney.
While you may fear the worst regarding sentencing for embezzlement, working with a knowledgeable lawyer can produce excellent results. Rather than make it easy for prosecutors to send you to prison for decades, let your attorney do everything possible to keep this from occurring