Defending Against Embezzlement Charges In Florida
Embezzlement is a serious crime in Florida, with serious consequences for those charged and convicted. Typically, embezzlement happens when a person with access to money or property due to their employment – or other relationship of trust – takes ownership of that money or property for their personal use.
Embezzlement is considered a “white collar” crime and is often prosecuted at the Federal level. Under Federal law, embezzlement is a specific intent crime, meaning prosecutors must prove that the defendant intended to deprive the rightful owner of their money or property. Accidental or unintended takings – even if someone is victimized by that taking – does not constitute embezzlement under these legal standards. Crucially, the intentional taking in itself is an illegal act – even if the defendant plans to return the money or property at a later time.
In Florida, approximately 1,000 embezzlement arrests take place annually, with many of those occurring in Orlando and Orange County. At the state level, acts of embezzlement are typically charged in Florida state courts as property theft crimes under Florida Statute Sec. 812.014. A defendant could also face charges of making false entries in the books of a business entity under Florida Statute Sec. 817.15.
What Are the Penalties for Embezzlement in Florida?
Penalties for embezzlement in Florida can vary depending on the circumstances and the amount taken. On the low end, if the taking was less than $100, the defendant would face second degree misdemeanor charges and up to 60 days in jail. If the alleged theft was between $300 and $20,000, this would be charged as a third degree felony with punishments including up to 5 years in jail and $5,000 in fines. On the high end, theft over $100,000 would bring first degree felony charges and up to 30 years in prison.
Collateral effects of an embezzlement conviction in Florida can include driver’s license suspensions and serious damage to one’s personal and professional lives. An embezzlement charge can lead to termination from current employment and make a person “unemployable” for future jobs in many sectors as well. The damage to one’s reputation at times can far exceed a court’s own punishment.
Defenses to Embezzlement Charges at the Federal and State Levels in Florida
When Federal embezzlement charges are involved, the government’s case rests on proof of intent by the defendant to take property or money for themselves. Demonstrating a lack of intent – either through mistake, or some good faith reason the defendant held possession of the property can weaken the prosecution’s case.
If the crime is charged as theft at the state level, the defendant again would want to show that they lacked intent or had some other valid reason to hold possession of the money or property they were alleged to have stolen.
If you are being investigated or charged with any embezzlement-related crime under Federal or Florida law, it is critical that you consult with a qualified Orlando Florida criminal defense attorney at the earliest stages of the case. You will need to know your legal rights and options under the circumstances before you find yourself at a long-term disadvantage.
Contact The Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys at Joshi Law Firm, PA to Discuss Your Options in an Embezzlement Case
When prosecutors bring charges related to embezzlement, they will prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law. You will need a criminal defense attorney that is up to the task and can explore all avenues in your defense case. To learn more, contact our Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Joshi Law Firm today to discuss the facts involved and strategies that may be available to you. Our legal team is available at 407-661-1109, or you can complete our online case questionnaire at your convenience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.