Prosecutors in Fort Lauderdale do not have to show that a person took money or property without the rightful owner’s knowledge to lodge an embezzlement charge and win a conviction. However, the state must demonstrate that the person intended to use the resource for personal gain.
Because an embezzlement crime involves no violence or intimidation and is a violation of the trust the individual placed on an employee, friend, or others, it is a white-collar crime. The penalties can still be severe, though, depending upon the seriousness of the charges. Persons facing these charges may need a competent Ft Lauderdale embezzlement lawyer with extensive experience. Contact an experienced fraud attorney right away.
Categorizing Embezzlement Offenses
Embezzlement does not have a specific criminal statute in Florida law, so the state prosecutes these crimes as thefts. They can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the value of the embezzled property.
With misdemeanor embezzlement offenses, there are two degrees of offenses – first and second-degree crimes, with the first-degree being the most serious. Second-degree misdemeanors are petty thefts, or “petit” in Florida, of less than $100 in value, and first-degree misdemeanor thefts are valued between $100 and $300.
Felonies are thefts ranging from $300 to $20,000 for third-degree charges, $20,000 to $100,000 for second-degree charges, and $100,000 or more for first-degree charges.
What Are the Consequences of Embezzlement Offenses?
If the court previously convicted someone of a second-degree embezzlement charge, the state can elevate the current charge to a first-degree offense. Potential penalties are 60 days in custody for a second-degree offense and a one-year sentence for a first-degree one. Potential fines are $500 for second-degree and $1,000 for first-degree. As a Ft Lauderdale lawyer knows, persons facing first-degree embezzlement charges could face sentences of up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Second-degree is 15 years and $10,000, and third-degree is 5 years and $5,000.
Common Defenses in an Embezzlement Case
A Ft Lauderdale lawyer could conduct an independent investigation of the alleged embezzlement crime to determine if authorities performed their duties within the law. They could also challenge evidence if they believe it should be inadmissible, and identify any mitigating factors. Specific embezzlement defenses may include:
- The state failed to provide sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction
- Law enforcement encouraged the individual to commit the crime they would not have otherwise committed
- Lack of intent, if someone did not purposely commit the offense
Discretionary Sentencing Guidelines
The state adopted sentencing guidelines under which the court may impose the maximum incarceration terms and monetary fines to the full extent of the law. Sentencing guidelines allow judges to consider mitigating factors in determining punishments. For example, they may not sentence a first offender to the maximum term.
A Ft Lauderdale lawyer may request a lesser punishment for embezzlement based on various reasons they present to the court. In many cases, the prosecutor and the defense attorney can negotiate for the state to charge a lesser offense that has a shorter sentence and reduced fines if the defendant is willing to enter a guilty plea. These plea bargains help reduce the caseload in Florida’s courts.
Contact a Ft Lauderdale Embezzlement Attorney
If you have bee accused of a financial crime, it is best to contact a Ft Lauderdale embezzlement lawyer as soon as possible. Our team could determine how to best handle your case and avoid serious penalties. For more information about how our attorneys could help you, call today.