EMBEZZLEMENT LAWYERS in Bradenton and Sarasota
An Embezzlement Lawyer Can Protect Your Reputation
The crime of embezzlement involves using a position of trust or authority to steal money or other property. The most common scenario involves an employee embezzling money or other property from his or her employer, but there are several other forms of embezzlement as well. In Florida, embezzlement is considered a form of theft, and Florida’s theft statute imposes penalties based on the amount of money or the value of the property embezzled. With offices in Bradenton and Sarasota, our embezzlement lawyers are here to provide you with your best defense options.
When Can You Be Found Guilty of Embezzlement in Florida?
Since embezzlement is a form of theft under Florida law, prosecutors must be able to prove all of the elements of theft in order to secure a conviction. This means that, if you have been charged with embezzlement, prosecutors must be able to prove:
- You knowingly obtained or used, or endeavored to obtain or use, someone else’s (or a business’s) property; and,
- You had the intent to deprive the owner of the right to the property or a benefit from the property, or you intended to appropriate the property for your or someone else’s use.
Under Florida’s theft statute, you don’t necessarily need to “steal” money or other property in order to be charged with embezzlement. Along with misappropriating funds, some other examples of acts that can constitute embezzlement in Florida include:
- Using a company’s funds to buy items for personal use
- Taking business property such as tools, equipment or vehicles temporarily for personal use
- Taking a loan of money or property with no intention of ever repaying the loan or returning the property
What Are Possible Defenses to Embezzlement Charges in Florida?
Like other types of theft crimes, there are several possible defenses to embezzlement charges under Florida law. This includes defenses focused on challenging the sufficiency of the prosecution’s case as well as defenses focused on keeping the prosecution’s evidence out of court. Depending on the facts of your case, some examples of defenses our embezzlement lawyers in Sarasota and Bradenton may be able to assert on your behalf include:
- You Did Not “Knowingly” Take Someone Else’s (or a Business’s) Property – Did you think the property in question was yours? Did you think you had the owner’s consent to borrow it? If you did not “knowingly” take someone else’s (or a business’s) property, you are not guilty of embezzlement under Florida law.
- You Did Not “Intend” to Deprive the Owner – Guilt also requires evidence of “intent” to deprive the owner. If you borrowed property intending to return it, you did not commit the crime of embezzlement.
- You Did Not Use a Company’s Funds or Property for Personal Benefit – In cases involving the use of company funds, tools, vehicles or other property, prosecutors must prove that the defendant sought to use the company property for personal benefit. If you had no intention of using company assets for your own purposes, this can be a valid defense to embezzlement as well.
- The Police Conducted an Unconstitutional Search or Seizure – In many cases, the police need a warrant to conduct a search or seizure. When acting without a warrant, the police must have a valid constitutional basis for doing so. If the police searched you or seized evidence in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, this evidence may be inadmissible in court.
- The Prosecution Violated Your Constitutional Rights – Prosecutors can (and do) violate defendants’ constitutional rights in a variety of different ways. One of the most common examples is withholding exculpatory evidence. If the prosecutors assigned to your case have violated your rights, this may entitle you to a pre-trial dismissal.
Remember, as a criminal defendant in Florida, you do not need to prove your innocence. Rather, it is up to the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So, if the prosecution doesn’t have the evidence it needs to prove that you acted “knowingly,” “intentionally” or for personal gain, this lack of evidence can be enough to save you from a guilty verdict at an embezzlement trial.
Do I Need an Embezzlement Lawyer if I Am Facing an Embezzlement Charge in Florida?
Due to the substantial penalties that embezzlement charges carry in Florida (as well as the long-term consequences of having an embezzlement case on your criminal record), it is strongly in your best interests to hire an experienced Sarasota or Bradenton embezzlement lawyer to represent you. You have too much at stake to trial to handle your case on your own. An experienced lawyer will be able to assess all possible defenses, build an effective case strategy, negotiate a plea bargain if warranted, and fight for your freedom at trial if necessary.
What are the Penalties for Embezzlement in Florida?
Regardless of how you are accused of embezzling (or endeavoring to embezzle) money or other property, the penalties that are on the table in your case depend on the amount at issue. Florida law currently has the following penalties for embezzlement:
- Property worth less than $100 – Up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine (second-degree misdemeanor)
- Property worth more than $100 but less than $300 – Up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine (first-degree misdemeanor)
- Property worth $300 to $19,999 – Up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine (third-degree felony)
- Property worth $20,000 to $99,999 – Up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine (second-degree felony)
- Property worth $100,000 or more – Up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine (first-degree felony)
While these are the general rules, there are some exceptions. For example, you can face a first-degree felony charge for embezzling $50,000 worth of shipped cargo, and you can potentially face a first-degree misdemeanor charge for embezzling less than $100 if you are a repeat offender. To find out what penalties are at stake in your case (and what defenses you may be able to assert to protect yourself), you should speak with an embezzlement lawyer right away.
Speak with a Bradenton or Sarasota Embezzlement Lawyer for Free
If you are facing an embezzlement charge in Florida, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation right away. To speak with a Sarasota or Bradenton embezzlement lawyer in confidence as soon as possible, call 941-404-8909 or tell us how we can reach you online now.
Contact Us Today!