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When most people think of embezzlement, they believe the person accused of the crime must have stolen millions of dollars in money or property from another person or company. However, much to people’s surprise, many cases of embezzlement involve much smaller amounts of money and property, and can also take place in many different types of settings. Though there is no actual crime of embezzlement contained in federal law, prosecutors in these cases use a variety of statutes pertaining to such areas of fraud as bank, mail, wire, and securities. Though individual cases of course vary, those found guilty of embezzlement can find themselves facing as much as 25 years in jail, along with large fines and the ruining of their reputation. Since there are many different types of embezzlement that can take place, it is important to examine various examples and the penalties that can be associated with them.
Manipulating Business Records
Whether in a large or small business, there are numerous people who have the capability to manipulate business records for purposes of deceiving others and benefiting themselves financially. From the owner of a company to management personnel or clerks in a bookkeeping department, these practices can sometimes allow a person to continue gaining money or property for many years. If you find yourself being accused of this practice, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss how to approach the charges against you.
Misuse of Credit Card
In many situations where embezzlement is alleged, the point of contention is the perceived misuse of a credit card. In various companies and organizations, management personnel and others in similar positions may be allowed use of a company or organizational credit card. However, while these cards are meant to be used only for business expenses, some individuals decide to use the cards to purchase personal items for themselves, pay bills, or other situations. When this is done, it is likely that once an audit takes place within the company or organization, the financial discrepancies will be discovered. However, since there are occasions where misunderstandings can result in the improper use of a credit card, do not automatically let authorities convict you of embezzlement. Instead, work closely with a skilled attorney who can examine the evidence against you and plan an appropriate legal strategy.
Wiring Funds from Bank Account
If you wire funds from a bank account without having the proper authorization, federal authorities may decide to pursue embezzlement charges against you by using the securities fraud statute. Often considered grand larceny, this can result in grand larceny charges being filed against you as well, which could add additional time to a potential prison sentence. If facing this situation, it will be crucial you have an attorney working for you who is skilled at negotiating with prosecutors. In doing so, it may be possible to get various charges against you reduced, limiting the penalties that may be given to you by the court.
A common form of embezzlement, forgery is the act of signing another person’s name to create a fraudulent document, such as a check or invoice. In many cases, this crime will be linked to falsifying business records, and will be a case where prosecutors will strongly attempt to show you were solely interested in stealing funds to enhance your personal financial situation. If facing these charges in New York, it will probably be classified as forgery in the second degree, making it a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Possession of Stolen Property
If you actually steal property in New York that leads to grand larceny charges being brought against you, this will be considered an embezzlement scheme. However, if you are in possession of stolen property but did not steal it, it will be classified as criminal possession of stolen property. Under New York Penal Law, you will be facing penalties of four to as much as 25 years in prison. Since police and prosecutors will attempt to put extreme pressure on you when they find you in possession of stolen property, never agree to anything until you have spoken to your attorney and can have them present with you during any questioning or negotiations.
Whether it is a bank clerk stealing money out of a safe or cash drawer, a financial adviser creating a fraudulent Ponzi scheme with investors, or a nonprofit organization’s treasurer who is stealing funds to purchase personal items, these and other situations can all lead to the filing of embezzlement charges against you. Should this happen, don’t assume you will automatically go to prison. Instead, schedule a consultation with a defense attorney experienced in embezzlement cases. Once you do, your attorney can examine your case and decide on the best way to protect your Constitutional rights.