4 Required Elements for Prosecuting an Embezzlement Case in Florida
Although many people have heard of embezzlement, few know what it entails. Often depicted as a white-collar crime taking place in large companies, the reality is that anyone can commit this offense. At its essence, embezzlement involves fraudulently using or taking someone else’s property after they trusted you with it. If you’re facing embezzlement charges, there are four elements a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Keep reading to learn some common defenses attorneys use.
The Property Owner Trusted You With Their Property
Many people confuse theft and embezzlement. Theft is the removal of an object without the consent of the owner. Embezzlement, on the other hand, involves the victim willfully giving the property to someone. The transfer of property can happen directly from the owner to you or through someone’s intervention on the owner’s behalf. For the prosecutor to prove that a defendant committed embezzlement, they must show that the victim had owned the property or funds and willfully transferred them to the defendant before he or she misappropriated them.
The Owner Gave You Their Property Because They Trusted You
Proving that the victim gave you property is not enough. The prosecutor must also demonstrate how this transfer happened. Embezzlement charges only apply to situations where the owner gives you property because they trust you and you then stole the property. If the victim gave you the property by mistake, embezzlement would not be an appropriate charge.
You Used the Property for Your Benefit
One of the required elements for proving fraud is that you used the property for your benefit, even for a brief time. This element requires proof of fraud. Fraud is when there is a misrepresentation of an essential fact to the owner. It may occur through a statement or an intentional omission of a fact.
You Acted With Criminal Intent
Intent is a required component of any criminal case. It protects alleged embezzlers from a conviction as a result of unintentional actions. The prosecution must present evidence that is credible and sufficient that the defendant committed the crime. In the case of embezzlement, the intent is the desire to take someone’s property as your own.
Common Defenses Used in Embezzlement Cases
Throughout your case, your attorney may try a few different strategies to battle your charges. Some common defenses include:
- Insufficient evidence: There must be clear evidence that embezzlement occurred. Most cases are dropped due to insufficient evidence. However, this defense only works if the jury cannot find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Entrapment: Entrapment is when the government coerces someone into embezzling funds they would not have taken on their own free will.
- Duress: Duress, as a defense, occurs when someone seriously believes they will be in danger if they do not commit a crime. Duress differs from entrapment because the government is not involved in coercing the individual.
- Incapacity: If your attorney can prove you were mentally incapacitated when committing the crime, they may be able to reduce charges.
When discussing possible defenses to embezzlement, it’s important to remember that ignorance is not a valid defense.
Trusted Criminal Defense Lawyers in Central Florida
If you’re facing embezzlement charges, you are likely anxious about what’s to come. Consider reaching out to the Umansky Law Firm. Our reputable criminal defense lawyers will offer trusted legal advice as you navigate the charges against you. We understand that you want a qualified and trusted attorney on your side who will give you one-on-one attention.
Our team has more than 100 years of combined experience in criminal law. We work closely with our clients and communicate with them every step through the legal process. Call us or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.