What is Fraudulent Intent?
Fraudulent intent is one of the three key elements of embezzlement. The three elements of embezzlement are:
1. Fraudulent conversion of property
2. Fraudulent Intent
3. Failure to pay money
Many times, fraudulent intent is implicit in the law. Although many of the statutes which define embezzlement may not explicitly state fraudulent intent as a requirement, fraudulent intent typically arises as a logical consequence of the law. In order to be found guilty of embezzlement in either state or federal court, the prosecution must show that you intentionally deprived another individual of his/her property.
According to the courts, a person is acting with fraudulent intent if either he/she intentionally misleads others, or attempts to achieve some sort of personal gain, by making a statement or representation which he/she knows is not true.
Because fraudulent intent is a key element in just about every embezzlement case, sometimes the argument that the individual being charged with embezzlement was not aware of what they were doing can be a strong defense. If you were not aware that what you were doing was embezzlement (for example, maybe you thought the money was rightfully yours), then you could not have had fraudulent intent and you can’t be guilty of embezzlement.
Evidence of Fraudulent Intent
Prosecutors will try to find evidence of fraudulent intent in order to give them the best chance of getting a guilty verdict. Much like pretty much any other crime, the actions leading up to the crime can be evidence of intent. For example, if you are charged with murder, then the act of buying a gun, loading it, and driving to the victim’s home with the gun, can all be viewed as evidence of intent to commit murder.
In much the same way, in an embezzlement case, actions leading up to the embezzlement may be used as evidence of your intent to commit the crime. However, if prosecutors are unable to find solid actions beforehand which indicate fraudulent intent, or if the defense can explain these actions in a different way unrelated to the crime, then reasonable doubt may be cast.
It’s up to you and your attorney to look at your case and determine what the best defense is. In some cases, challenging fraudulent intent may be a good route to take. If you are facing a federal or state embezzlement charge, contact attorney David M. Dudley right away. Mr. Dudley is an experienced embezzlement attorney who has been defending clients for decades. Call David at 800-805-6167 today for a free case evaluation.