There are several approaches to defending against an embezzlement charge that a knowledgeable attorney could explore to produce the best defense possible. If you are facing these charges, consider speaking to a West Palm Beach embezzlement lawyer who has extensive experience in presenting a defense.
An experienced fraud attorney’s job is to develop the best defense possible, challenge the admissibility of the State’s evidence based on their client’s constitutional rights and the rules of evidence, and develop evidence and theories that favors their side.
What Does the Prosecution Need to Prove in Embezzling Cases?
As West Palm Beach embezzlement lawyer knows, when law enforcement investigates embezzlement, they need to produce enough evidence to prove a strong suspicion in order to initiate criminal charges. Furthermore, Prosecutors have a duty to develop evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime. This standard is above and beyond the suspicion standard needed for an arrest. The State under law must provide the Defendant with all the evidence it develops for or against the Client upon demand from the Client’s Attorney.
Categorizing the Penalties Associated with Embezzlement Offenses
The charge of Embezzlement can be either Felony or Misdemeanor, with each type of offense having multiple levels of seriousness called degrees. First-degree is the most severe, followed by second and third-degree levels. The degrees of embezzlement cases refer to the amount of money a person takes or the value of the property involved. Punishments for the lengths of incarceration and amounts of fines are different for each degree level:
- First-degree felony: $100,000 or more, with a potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
- Second-degree felony: $20,000 to $100,000 limit, with a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
- Third-degree felony: $300 to $20,000 limit, with a potential sentence of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- First-degree misdemeanor: $100 to $300 limit, with a potential sentence of up to one year in custody and a $1,000 fine
- Second-degree misdemeanor: limit of less than $100, with a potential sentence of up to 60 days in custody and a $500 fine
Misdemeanor embezzlement charges do not have a third degree in West Palm Beach.
Role of Entrapment and Duress
Entrapment may occur when a law enforcement officer induces or coerces someone to commit a criminal offense that the person would not have committed otherwise. Sting operations, however, are not generally considered entrapment.
If someone believes some harm or danger will come to them if they do not commit a crime, that person is legally under duress. However, people facing a financial hardship or addicted to drugs who commit embezzlement to meet those ends do not qualify for a duress defense.
Defenses in West Palm Beach Embezzlement Cases
West Palm Beach allows several defenses for embezzlement, but the individual circumstances of the alleged offense narrow the field of defenses. They must be able to convince jurors to have a reasonable doubt in the state’s case.
A West Palm Beach embezzlement lawyer’s defense often cites insufficient evidence in these types of cases. This legal theory can be effective if the defense team can suppress evidence on legal grounds from reaching a jury. However, the Prosecution does not need to prove someone took money or property. The State needs to prove is that the defendant used whatever was embezzled for their own benefit.