Possible Defenses to Embezzlement
Embezzlement is a type of financial fraud and is considered a white collar crime. Embezzlement is defined as the misappropriation of assets by someone who was entrusted with their care. Depending on the total value of the assets embezzled and the type of assets (bank funds, investment money, etc.), embezzlement may be a federal crime, state crime, or both. In most cases, embezzlement is regarded as a very serious offence with very strict penalties including serious jail time. That’s why it’s important to have an attorney who is familiar with all the different possible defenses to an embezzlement charge:
- Entrapment - This is when the government sets you up or compels you to commit a crime that would otherwise have not been committed. With regards to embezzlement, for example, this could be the government setting up bait assets to get you to commit embezzlement. Typically, the counterargument by prosecutors is that the embezzlement would have been committed anyway.
- Insufficient Evidence - This defense may seem obvious, however, almost 42% of federal embezzlement cases end up getting dropped due to lack of evidence. Therefore, this may be a defense worth pursuing.
- Absence of Intent - As with most crimes, embezzlement requires that the crime be intentional. In other words, you must have intentionally tried to take assets from others for your own gain. If, for example, you thought the assets were actually owned by you and did not realize they belonged to someone else, the case may get dismissed. Likewise, if you did not intend to deprive another’s assets permanently, that may be a defense to embezzlement.
- Duress - Although somewhat rare, duress can be a viable defense depending on the circumstances. Duress is when an individual thinks they will be harmed or placed in danger unless they commit a crime. For example, if a boss forces you to embezzle money, otherwise you will lose your job, that could be considered duress.
- Incapacity - This defense is also uncommon; however, it may be applicable to your case. Unlike insanity, incapacity means that you were mentally incapacitated while committing the crime. For example, if you were under medication, it’s possible that you did not realize you were depositing someone else’s money into your bank account. It’s also important to know that in insanity and intoxication defenses rarely work in an embezzlement case.
Some of these defenses walk a very fine line. Ignorance of the law, for example, is not a valid defense. That’s why it’s important to draw distinction between ignorance of the law and absence of intent. It’s up to you and your attorney to discuss these possible defenses, and others, and determine which defense is best for your individual case.
If you are being charged with federal embezzlement, contact David M. Dudley today. David is an experienced federal embezzlement defense attorney who knows all these defenses to embezzlement and more. Call 800-805-6167 today for a free case evaluation.