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4 things to know when facing embezzlement charges

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2022 | Felonies

If Minnesota police have taken you into custody under suspicion of a crime, the next several months of your life may not only be stressful but may determine how you will spend your future. If you are facing charges for financial crimes, your freedom may be at stake, as well as your wallet, for such crimes are punishable under conviction with substantial fines, in addition to a jail sentence. Embezzlement is the term commonly used to refer to theft or misappropriation of property or financial assets.

Keeping several things in mind may help alleviate stress as you navigate the criminal justice system. Every state has its own laws regarding embezzlement. However, in most states, four facts must be proven in order to obtain a conviction.

You must owe a fiduciary duty to the alleged victim

This means that the prosecutor in your case must convince the court that you were in a relationship with the alleged victim where you held a position of trust and owed a responsibility to that person. It must be demonstrated that the other party was relying on you in a matter of confidence.

Embezzlement means gain was acquired through a fiduciary relationship

If someone steals your wallet, he or she is not committing embezzlement. For a person to be convicted of this crime, it must be proved that he or she acquired personal gain or profit directly through the misappropriation of funds or property in connection with a fiduciary relationship. Someone who steals your wallet may be guilty of theft but not embezzlement.

You are not guilty of embezzlement for an innocent human error

It would highly unlikely for a criminal court judge to convict a defendant of embezzlement for merely making a clerical error. A prosecutor must demonstrate that a defendant’s actions were intentional and designed to attain personal profit or gain from the behavior. Making a computation error on a calculator does not necessarily prove that the person who made the mistake was trying to embezzle funds.

The court will also consider what happened to the money or property

If a person never had the money or property in question in his or her possession, even temporarily, a prosecutor would have a difficult time convincing the court that he or she is an embezzler. If you are convicted of embezzlement, it means that the court determined that you had funds or assets in your possession, then either transferred them to someone else, hid them or destroyed them.

A strong defense increases the chances for a positive outcome

During an embezzlement investigation and subsequent trial, if you are arrested and charged with a crime, your rights as protected under the U.S. Constitution always remain intact. If you believe a police officer or other law enforcement official has violated your rights, you may bring the matter to the court’s attention. An example of this would be a defendant who has evidence to show that his or her home or vehicle was unlawfully searched, with items seized, thereafter. Such a person may request a case dismissal or challenge evidence as inadmissible.