Texas Embezzlement Lawyer
Embezzlement is a white-collar (non-violent) crime that takes place when an individual is given access to an organization’s assets or funds. That individual then dishonestly appropriates those assets or funds for their personal use despite the expectation that the individual would protect the assets for the organization. Embezzlement can be charged under state laws or under federal laws.
The federal government separates embezzlement charges into: embezzlement by a bank employee or officer, from an employee benefit plan, from employment and training funds, or from healthcare funds. Embezzlement and theft are not the same things. Theft occurs when an individual takes property that does not belong to them. Embezzlement also occurs when an individual takes property that does not belong to them but the individual in question had legal access to the property and a fiduciary duty to safeguard the property. An embezzlement conviction requires:
- A fiduciary duty between the individual and the organization
- Access given to the individual by virtue of employment
- Proof that the individual fraudulently converted or appropriated the property for his or her own use
- Intent by the individual to deprive the organization of its property
The most common form of embezzlement is cash skimming; employees who handle cash directly embezzle funds by destroying or falsifying the transaction. According to a safeatlast blog, 75 percent of employees have committed embezzlement on some level. Keep in mind, this could include anything from taking a box of paper clips home for their own use to taking money from their employer. Employees who have embezzled cash and gotten away with it are very likely to do it again.
About half of the companies that have lost money through employee embezzlement will recover less than one-third of the lost funds. Finally, the “average” embezzler has worked for the company for at least eight years, with most instances of embezzling being tied to a personal financial crisis or a disgruntled employee. Eighty-five percent of employee theft is committed by managers in the organization.
What is an Embezzlement Lawyer and How Can They Help?
If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, you are likely feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what you should do next. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side can ensure your rights are protected while aggressively defending your charges. A criminal defense lawyer has a thorough understanding of the laws associated with your charges, whether you have been charged under Texas law or federally.
Your criminal defense lawyer will have solid negotiation skills that will allow them to work toward a much less severe plea bargain when appropriate. If you are entirely innocent of the charges, your attorney will know how to collect and interpret evidence to prove your innocence. A knowledgeable defense attorney from Whalen Law Office will have access to important resources, such as a private investigator and expert witnesses. These resources can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. If your case goes to trial, you definitely want a highly experienced embezzlement lawyer on your side who can effectively present your defense and cross-examine witnesses.
Why Should You Choose a State and Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer from Whalen Law Office?
When you choose a Whalen Law Office defense attorney who is experienced in embezzlement defense, you have taken a necessary step in ensuring your rights and your future are fully protected from beginning to end. Whalen Law Office provides an experienced, zealous defense whether you are fighting state or federal charges. Unlike some attorneys who do not defend against federal charges, our attorneys have a deep understanding of federal policies and criminal procedures. With the networking and resources of a large law firm, Whalen Law Office also offers the compassion and convenience of a smaller firm.
Attorneys James P. Whalen and Ryne T. Sandel will comprehensively assess your situation, then determine the best way to structure your defense. If your rights were violated during the investigation or arrest, we will seek to suppress any illegally obtained evidence or address violations. When you are facing serious charges of embezzlement, don’t you want a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer who has obtained positive outcomes for hundreds of clients? If so, Whalen Law Office is the right choice for you.
What Are the Potential Penalties for an Embezzlement Conviction?
In the state of Texas, the penalties for an embezzlement conviction will depend on the value of the property taken:
- If the value of the property is less than $1,500, you could face a misdemeanor conviction and up to one year in jail.
- Embezzlement of property valued between $1,500 and $20,000 is classified as a state jail felony, with penalties of up to two years in state jail.
- If the value of the property taken is between $20,000 and $100,000, you could face a 3rd- degree felony, with the possibility of 2-10 years in prison.
- Embezzlement of property valued between $100,000 and $200,000 is classified as a 2nd- degree felony, with penalties of 2-20 years in prison.
- If the value of the property taken is more than $200,000, you face 1st- degree felony charges, with penalties of 5-99 years in state prison.
If you are considered a public servant in your place of employment, you will face the next higher category of offense through enhanced charges. Federal penalties for embezzlement are even harsher—any amount over $1,000 could bring a fine of up to $250,000 (or up to the amount embezzled) and up to ten years in prison. For amounts less than $1,000 you could face a fine as large as $100,000 and up to a year in jail. Depending on the amount stolen, there are a variety of federal charges that could be used to prosecute you—and could result in 20-30 years in prison.
What Is the Process for an Embezzlement Case?
Embezzlement is a very serious charge that can be personally and professionally devastating. It is important that you are proactive in order to mitigate the adverse consequences of these charges. This includes hiring an experienced embezzlement lawyer the minute you think you are being investigated or as soon as you are charged if you were unaware of the investigation. Your attorney will begin investigating your charges; if the charges are legitimate, your attorney will immediately begin negotiations for lesser charges with lesser penalties. If you are innocent, your attorney will be searching for evidence that exonerates you. Sentence reductions and post-conviction strategies can also make a difference in the end results of your charges. After you are charged, you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Since embezzlement is not considered a violent crime, it is likely you will be released on your own recognizance, rather than being forced to remain in jail, however, this is not always the case. There will be negotiations back and forth between your lawyer and the prosecutor. If no plea deal is reached, you will go to trial, where your Texas embezzlement lawyer will zealously represent you, bringing up any violations of your rights, when applicable. If you are found guilty of embezzlement, the judge will set a sentencing date. If you are acquitted, you will be released.
What Are the Most Common Defense Strategies for Allegations of Embezzlement?
While your attorney will carefully evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding your embezzlement charges to determine the best defense, below are some of the more common defenses to the crime of embezzlement:
- Duress—You faced a significant risk, such as the loss of your job if you refused an order by a superior to take company money or property.
- Entrapment—You were coerced by someone (usually the government) to take money or property—committing a crime you otherwise would not have committed.
- There was no criminal intent on your part, i.e., you believed the property was legitimately yours.
- Incapacitation—Perhaps you were under an incapacitation resulting from a prescription drug at the time of the theft.
- Repayment—Although this is not technically a defense, if you can pay back the money that was stolen, your exposure could be mitigated.
How Can Reasonable Doubt Impact Your Embezzlement Charges?
Your attorney must only show that there is reasonable doubt regarding whether you committed the crime of embezzlement. The prosecution must show definitive proof that you did commit the criminal offense, meaning they must meet the burden of proof. “Beyond a reasonable doubt,” means the admissible evidence shows you committed the offense—while not all doubt is eliminated, no other reasonable explanation exists.
This is the highest standard of proof that exists. Your attorney will work to show there is reasonable doubt, and discount evidence presented by the prosecution. As an example, perhaps the prosecutor has a witness who says they saw you take money from the cash register at work. Your defense attorney, however, brings in another witness who clearly shows the first witness had a reason to lie about your actions. This would introduce reasonable doubt.
How Can an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer from Whalen Law Office Help?
At Whalen Law Office, we help those facing serious criminal charges in a discreet, professional manner. Every client we represent receives the highest level of integrity, professionalism, and experience. If you are facing any type of criminal charges, you should take the charges very seriously. The sooner you have a knowledgeable defense lawyer from Whalen Law Office on your case, the better the outcome is likely to be. Contact Whalen Law Office today.