Embezzlement is one of the most commonly charged offenses in white-collar crime. But what exactly is embezzlement? And more importantly, can a criminal defense lawyer get you off embezzlement charges? Embezzlement is defined as the fraudulent appropriation of funds or property entrusted to someone's care. In other words, it's stealing money that has been specifically given to you for a specific purpose. Embezzlement can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount of money involved. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to get you off embezzlement charges if they can prove that you didn't intend to steal the money. Here are ways they can help beat these charges:
1. Show That You Had No Intention of Stealing the Money
One of the key elements of embezzlement is that you must have had the intention to steal the money. If your lawyer can show that you didn't have any intention of taking the money for yourself, then they may be able to get the charges dismissed. For example, if you were given the money to hold onto for a friend and then spent it without telling them, that wouldn't be considered embezzlement.
2. Prove That the Money Wasn't Actually Stolen
If your lawyer can prove that the money in question wasn't actually stolen, then the charges against you will likely be dropped. This could be done by showing that the money was either returned or never taken in the first place. For example, if you borrowed money from a friend and then paid them back, you can't be charged with embezzlement.
3. Show That You Didn't Permanently Take the Money
One way a criminal defense lawyer can get you off embezzlement charges is by showing that you didn't permanently take the money. If the prosecutor can't prove that you meant to keep the money for yourself, then they can't prove that you committed a crime. Many embezzlement cases hinge on whether the defendant intended to steal the money or not.
For example, if you took money from your employer to pay for an unexpected car repair, you may not be guilty of embezzlement if you intended to repay the money as soon as possible. A criminal defense lawyer can use this defense to try to get the charges against you dropped.
4. Prove That You Didn't Act Alone
If your lawyer can prove that you didn't act alone, then the charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed. This is because it's much harder to convict someone of a crime if there's more than one person involved.
For example, if you were charged with embezzlement for taking money from a joint bank account, your lawyer could try to prove that your co-account holder also took money from the account. This would make it much harder for the prosecutor to prove that you intended to steal the money.