Federal and Florida Embezzlement Laws, Regulations, Crimes and Defenses: A Guide to Understanding and Fighting Embezzlement Charges
Embezzlement is a felony in any jurisdiction, including Florida and federally. This white collar crime involves misusing funds entrusted to an individual for personal gain. Understanding the complexities of embezzlement laws, crimes and potential defenses is critical to protecting your rights and freedoms.
Embezzlement is a form of white collar crime that involves the misuse of funds or property entrusted to someone. Both federal and Florida law have specific definitions of embezzlement.
Federal law Definition of embezzlement
Under federal law, embezzlement is defined in several statutes, each covering a different type of property, fund, or situation. Broadly speaking, federal laws describe embezzlement as the fraudulent acquisition of property by a person in trust.
For example, section 641 of 18 U.S.C. covers the misappropriation of money, property, or public records, and states: "Every person who embezzles, steals, steals, or willfully converts the same to his own use or that of another . . . shall be fined or imprisoned under this title for more than ten years , or both."
Florida Law Definition of embezzlement
In Florida, embezzlement falls under the general category of theft. A related statute, Florida Code § 812.014, describes theft as knowingly obtaining, using, or attempting to obtain or use the property of another for the purpose of:
1. Deprivation of property rights or property interests of others.
2. Proper possession or use of property by someone without right.
Although embezzlement is not clearly defined as a separate crime, it is often characterized by a breach of trust, in which the property or funds of another person or entity are entrusted to someone for personal gain.
A basic element of misappropriation, in both federal and Florida law, involves the misappropriation or misappropriation of property or funds entrusted to the defendant with the intent to deprive the owner of the property's rights. Understanding these definitions is critical to navigating potential misappropriation-related charges or defenses.
Florida federal embezzlement laws
In the United States, embezzlement is handled at both the federal and state levels. Federal embezzlement laws cover a wide range of crimes, from embezzlement of public funds or property (18 U.S.C. §641) to misappropriation of pension and benefit funds (18 U.S.C. §664). These laws generally apply to cases involving federal agencies or interstate commerce.
Like most states, Florida has its own specific laws regarding embezzlement. These are described in Florida Statute §812.014, which defines the crime as the unlawful acquisition or misappropriation of property or money entrusted to a defendant with the intent to deprive the owner of rights or benefits.
Examples of corruption
A wide range of crimes fall under embezzlement. At the federal level, these may include:
Misappropriation of money, property or public records:This crime involves entrusting money, assets or public records to individuals and then converting those assets for personal use. An example might be a government employee transferring government funds to a personal account.
Abuse of employee benefit programs:This is a person who embezzles or steals from any social welfare program or employee pension fund. Corporate executives who misuse employee retirement plan funds for personal expenses can be charged under the law.
In Florida, embezzlement crimes typically involve a fiduciary relationship, such as that between an employee and an employer or between a professional (such as an attorney or financial advisor) and their client. For example, under Florida law, an accountant who transferred a client's money to a personal account could be charged with embezzlement.
Penalties and penalties for embezzlement
Penalties for embezzlement vary greatly depending on the value of the property embezzled and the details of the case. Federal corruption charges can result in fines, restitution and prison terms. For example, embezzlement of public money or property valued at more than $1,000 is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and less than $1,000 is punishable by up to one year in prison (18 U.S.C. § 641).
In Florida, the penalties depend on the value of the property embezzled and range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. The most serious charge is a first-degree felony for property valued at $100,000 or more, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (Florida Statutes §775.082, §775.083).
Criminal justice process in corruption cases
Like most criminal cases, the development of a criminal embezzlement case follows a specific sequence of events. Here's an overview of how the process works:
1.research: Before charges are filed, an investigation will be conducted. This is usually caused by a complaint or suspicion of wrongdoing by an employer, bank or financial institution. Law enforcement agencies or internal auditors may conduct an investigation. They gathered evidence, including financial records, surveillance video, emails and more, to corroborate the claim.
2.TOLL BOOTH: Once sufficient evidence is gathered, the case will be referred to the prosecutor. If the prosecutor believes there is enough evidence to show that the defendant has committed embezzlement, a formal charge will be filed. This can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the stolen property and other circumstances.
3.charge: The accused is then arraigned, which means he appears in court to hear the charges against him. The judge will also inform the defendant of his rights, including the right to an attorney. The defendant is then asked to plead guilty, not guilty, or plead no contest.
4.Discover: This is the pre-trial stage where the prosecution and defense exchange information and evidence about the case. This stage allows both parties to prepare their arguments and strategies. It may include sharing documents, witness lists and expert testimony.
5.discount application: In some cases, a defendant may decide to negotiate a plea deal. This usually involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a reduced sentence. Both parties must agree to the terms of the plea agreement.
6.rehearsal: If no plea agreement is reached or the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will go to trial. Here the prosecution presents evidence and arguments to prove the guilt of the accused. The defense will also present your case, which may include presenting evidence against the prosecution or testifying on your behalf. A jury or judge then decides whether the defendant is guilty or not.
7.crisis: If the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, the court will sentence. In the event of embezzlement, this may include restitution (repayment of stolen funds), fines, suspension and/or imprisonment. The severity of the sentence depends on several factors, including the value of the stolen property and previous criminal records.
8.appeal: After conviction, the accused has the right to appeal the conviction or sentence. Courts of appeals review cases for legal or procedural errors. The court can uphold the conviction, vacate the conviction, or send the case back for a retrial.
It is vital that the accused has legal representation throughout the process. A lawyer can give advice, represent the interests of the accused and make sure your rights are protected. If you are facing corruption charges, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Possible defenses against misappropriation
Defending yourself against embezzlement charges requires a thorough understanding of the law and strategic approaches. Some common defenses include:
1.Lack of intent:The prosecution must prove that the accused intended to misappropriate the money. This defense can succeed if it can be shown that the abuse was unintentional or due to a misunderstanding.
2.Coercion or coercion:Defendants can be acquitted if they can prove that they were forced or coerced into committing the act.
3.Insufficient evidence:Charges can be dismissed if the prosecution cannot provide sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
4.Trap:This defense applies if the police officer induced the defendant to commit a crime that he would not have committed.
Given the complexity of embezzlement laws and the severity of potential penalties, it is vital that you seek the assistance of a qualified attorney should you face such charges. An attorney can provide invaluable guidance through the criminal justice system, help build a strong defense, and defend your rights in court. They can also negotiate a plea deal, which can reduce the severity of the charges or associated penalties.
At Musca Law in Pennsylvania, we have a team of experienced attorneys who specialize in federal and state embezzlement cases. Our attorneys are familiar with the intricacies of these laws and have a proven track record of helping clients navigate difficult embezzlement claims.
If you or someone you love is facing corruption charges, don't face them alone. Action must be taken quickly to protect your rights and build strong defenses. Contact Musca Law, P.A. today. by calling us toll-free at (888) 484-5057. Our experienced legal team is ready to fight for you and offer you the support you need during this difficult time.
Remember that categories do not determine your future. With the right legal representation, you can effectively respond to allegations of embezzlement and protect your reputation, career and freedom. Let Musca Law, P.A., be your ally in this battle. We are committed to providing high-quality, motivated legal representation to ensure that each client obtains the best possible outcome in their case. Call us today and let's start the fight for your future.
How long do you go to jail for embezzlement in Florida? ›
In Florida, a conviction for embezzlement can produce a sentence as diminutive as a second degree misdemeanor to a sentence for a first degree felony which can carry a prison term of up to thirty years and a fine of up to $10,000 or both, depending on the value of the property or cash asset stolen.Is there a statute of limitations on embezzlement in Florida? ›
Though there is no specific statute under Florida law for embezzlement, it will be prosecuted under Florida's property theft statute, 812.014.What is the burden of proof for embezzlement? ›
To prove embezzlement, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a moral certainty that the defendant had a specific intent to defraud the victim of property entrusted to the defendant through the fiduciary relationship. The defendant must have actually intended to deprive the victim of the property.What to do in case of embezzlement? ›
At that point one can call the police or district attorney, present them with the evidence and request an arrest or, alternatively, call the employee in, confront them with the evidence, demand restitution and terminate them for cause and then determine if you also wish to call the police.How much money stolen is a felony in Florida? ›
Grand theft: First-degree felony
In Florida, a larceny grand theft is charged as a first-degree felony if the amount stolen exceeds $100,000. This charge carries a penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
First-Degree Petit Theft– if the property is valued over $100 but less than $750, the resulting crime will qualify as first-degree petit theft, which carries with it a prison term of twelve months in prison and a $1,000 monetary fine.What is embezzlement Florida Statute 812? ›
(2) Any person who, with intent to deprive or withhold from the owner thereof the control of a trade secret, or with an intent to appropriate a trade secret to his or her own use or to the use of another, steals or embezzles an article representing a trade secret or without authority makes or causes to be made a copy ...How long can a felony charge be pending in Florida? ›
Under Florida law, anyone arrested for and charged with a felony must be given a speedy trial. Specifically this means that the prosecution has 175 days to bring a pending felony charge to trial in Florida. This time limit applies to any degree of felony, from capital felony to third degree felony.How long does the state attorney have to file charges in Florida? ›
If a defendant is held on a complaint and an information or indictment is not filed within 21 days, he/she may demand an adversary preliminary hearing. At an adversary preliminary hearing, evidence is presented and witnesses are questioned.What are the 3 burdens of proof? ›
beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal law. clear and convincing evidence in fraud in will disputes. preponderance of the evidence in most civil cases. probable cause in the acquisition of a warrant or arrest proceeding.
How much evidence is enough to convict someone? ›
Beyond a reasonable doubt.
Every state in the country has laws that make it clear a prosecutor must present enough evidence to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crime they are accused of.
In a criminal case, the prosecution bears the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution must convince the jury that there is no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence presented at trial.Do embezzlers get caught? ›
It's true that even though it seems like embezzlers are always getting caught, many employees still embezzle assets from a business and end up without getting caught for years, draining small businesses of needed profits fraudulently. I highly advise you to get vigilant before you lose your assets.What are key pieces of evidence detectives look for in embezzlement cases? ›
Missing financial documents: Embezzlers may destroy invoices, receipts or payroll records to hide evidence of their crimes. Inconsistencies in accounting records: Unexplained imbalances (especially those beyond the typical margin of error) could indicate embezzlement.Is stealing over $500 a felony in Florida? ›
Only stolen property valued at less than $750 authorizes charges for petit theft in Florida. Stealing items valued above $750 typically warrant charges for grand theft. Depending on the value of items stolen and your prior convictions, a grand theft charge can rise to the level of a first-degree felony.What is the grand theft law in Florida? ›
Florida law classifies Grand Theft as any intentional and unlawful property theft valued at $750.00 or more. In Florida, Grand theft is a felony offense. Therefore, the penalties for the crime may include fines, restitution, prison, probation, and a permanent criminal record.What is petit theft in Florida? ›
Under Florida Law (Section 812.014), petit theft is defined as when a person steal property from a person or business valued at less than $750. Petit theft is often associated with shoplifting however, it doesn't have to occur in a store.What is the longest you can go to jail for stealing? ›
Jail or Prison
For felony convictions of grand theft, the penalties might range anywhere from a sentence of 2 to 20 years' prison time. A first-time offender whose crime comes in at just over the felony threshold might get probation instead of a prison sentence. Probation can include some jail time.
However, states were generally much harsher for crimes against persons, with Virginia ranking up top at 13.1 years in jail on average, followed by Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Kentucky (Hawaii was the most lenient at 2.9 years).How much money is considered a federal offense? ›
If the total value of the property stolen is $1000 or less, it's a federal misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face up to one year in federal prison and fines of up to $100,000, If the total value exceeds $1000, it's a felony offense.
What is Rule 57.105 in Florida? ›
57.105 Florida's Sanctions Statute
57.105 is a statute that permits a party to obtain attorneys fees if the other side is doing something frivolous. Put another way, this law may be a path to get a lawsuit dismissed.
Embezzlement refers to a form of white-collar crime in which a person or entity intentionally misappropriates the assets entrusted to them.How is embezzlement committed? ›
Embezzlement occurs when a criminal takes or uses money from a company or an agency without consent. A criminal can take small amounts of assets over a time to prevent administrators from noticing, or they can take a large amount at once and use various methods to cover up the crime.What is the 3 felony rule in Florida? ›
Florida's three strikes law is used to impose maximum prison sentences to individuals convicted of their third violent felony. The goal is to prevent habitual offenders from committing additional serious crimes as a third strike.Does a felony go away after 7 years in Florida? ›
If you're convicted of a felony in Florida, it will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life (unless you receive a pardon from the President or Governor).Is jail time mandatory for a felony in Florida? ›
Once these 5 criteria are satisfied, a judge is required to impose the minimum mandatory term of imprisonment specified by Florida law as follows: Life felony = Life imprisonment. First-degree felony = 30-year prison term. Second-degree felony = 15-year prison term.What is the 33 day rule in Florida? ›
Someone can be held in jail for 33 days without being charged, according to Rule 3.134 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. It is important to note that the state actually only has 30 days to charge an arrestee with a crime. If it has not filed charges by that date, it must release the arrestee by the 33rd day.How long does it take for a felony case to go to trial in Florida? ›
Although each case is different, Florida Criminal Cases usually last about 90 days for misdemeanor and 180 days for felonies.How long does Florida have to indict you? ›
Regardless of the severity of the charge, the state only has 175 days after an arrest to file charges, and that is found in Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191.What is the hardest crime to prove? ›
White collar crimes like fraud and embezzlement might be more difficult to defend than others. This is because these crimes are generally investigated in great detail, which means there will be a lot of evidence to sort through. Because the evidence is purely financial, it is often difficult for jurors to comprehend.
What is the easiest burden of proof? ›
Preponderance of the evidence is one of the lowest burdens of proof in our legal system (i.e., the easiest to satisfy).What is insufficient evidence in a criminal case? ›
In a criminal case, a court will find insufficient evidence if the prosecutor cannot meet its burden of proof. Prior to trial, a defendant could move to dismiss the charges based on insufficient evidence.Who decides if there is enough evidence to indict? ›
The grand jury listens to the prosecutor and witnesses, and then votes in secret on whether they believe that enough evidence exists to charge the person with a crime. A grand jury may decide not to charge an individual based upon the evidence, no indictment would come from the grand jury.Is a statement enough to convict? ›
Although eyewitness testimony is often unreliable, it is enough evidence to convict a person of a crime in many cases. Even if it is the only evidence in a case, a witness statement can be sufficient to secure a conviction.Is one person's testimony enough to convict? ›
In domestic assault and criminal sexual conduct cases, often the only eyewitness the prosecutor has is the alleged victim of the offense. That person's statement is often enough for you to be charged and convicted of the crime.Can you be found guilty with circumstantial evidence? ›
The notion that one cannot be convicted on circumstantial evidence is, of course, false. Most criminal convictions are based on circumstantial evidence, although it must be adequate to meet established standards of proof. See also hearsay.Do you need evidence to be found guilty? ›
The complainant must be able to convince the jury or magistrates that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. To do this without supporting evidence can be an uphill struggle.Is circumstantial evidence enough to get a conviction? ›
Circumstantial evidence is admissible in a criminal trial, and a defendant can be convicted based solely on circumstantial evidence.How do you resolve embezzlement? ›
At that point one can call the police or district attorney, present them with the evidence and request an arrest or, alternatively, call the employee in, confront them with the evidence, demand restitution and terminate them for cause and then determine if you also wish to call the police.Is embezzlement hard to prove? ›
Prosecutors often find it hard to prove criminal intent in most embezzlement cases. The prosecutor must provide evidence that you had a specific intent to defraud the property owner entrusted to you through the fiduciary relationship. You could claim you made an honest mistake but never intended to commit embezzlement.
What to do after embezzlement? ›
- Contact a Lawyer. It's not uncommon for employees to steal from their employers, but it can be hard to spot the signs. ...
- Keep the Procedures Confidential. ...
- Ask - Don't Accuse. ...
- Confront With Evidence. ...
- Terminate the Employee If Necessary.
A lapping scheme is a fraudulent practice that involves an employee altering accounts receivables to hide stolen cash. The method involves taking a subsequent receivables payment from a transaction (for example, a sale) and using that to cover the theft.How do you prove someone is embezzling? ›
When proving DC federal embezzlement cases, the prosecution usually focuses their evidence on someone's personal records. For example, when someone takes money and puts it in their bank account, bank records can show that. Another indication is spending more money than the person should be able to do on their salary.How do you prove someone is embezzling money? ›
To prove embezzlement, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a moral certainty that the defendant had a specific intent to defraud the victim of property entrusted to the defendant through the fiduciary relationship. The defendant must have actually intended to deprive the victim of the property.Who investigates embezzlement? ›
the Securities and Exchange Commission.What are the 3 things to prove a crime? ›
In general, every crime involves three elements: first, the act or conduct (actus reus); second, the individual's mental state at the time of the act (mens rea); and third, the causation between the act and the effect (typically either proximate causation or but-for causation).What are the three types of evidence that are most important to criminal investigations? ›
- Physical Evidence. The first thing investigators look for is physical evidence at or near the crime site. ...
- Forensic Evidence. ...
- Digital Evidence.
for property valued between $300 and $10,000, the crime is a felony in the third degree. for property valued between $10,000 and $50,000, the crime is a felony in the second degree, and. for property valued at $50,000 or more, the crime is a felony in the first degree.Is stealing $500 a felony in Florida? ›
For property valued between $300 and $10,000, the offense is raised to a felony in the third degree. For property valued between $10,000 and $50,000, the crime is a felony in the second degree. For property valued at over $50,000, petit theft is a first-degree felony.How long do you go to jail for money laundering in Florida? ›
If the financial transactions total more than $300 but less than $20,000 in any one year period, then the money laundering offenses is classified as a third-degree felony under § 896.101(5)(a), which is punishable by up to five (5) years in Florida State Prison.
What is grand larceny in Florida? ›
March 17, 2023 – Michael J. Kelley, Esq. Florida law classifies Grand Theft as any intentional and unlawful property theft valued at $750.00 or more.What is the penalty for 812.014 in Florida? ›
If you are convicted of first-degree misdemeanor, you can be punished up to 365 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you are convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor, you can be put in jail for up to 60 days and receive a $500 fine. If they commit a third or more theft, it is a third degree felony.What is first degree grand theft in Florida? ›
In the course of committing the offense the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000, the offender commits grand theft in the first degree, punishable as a felony of the first degree, as provided in s. 775.082, s.What is 3rd degree grand theft in Florida? ›
If the value of the property stolen is more than $750 but less than $20,000.00, then the offense will be classified as a Grand Theft in the Third Degree. Under Florida law, Third Degree Felony grand theft is punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years in Florida State Prison and a $5,000.00 fine.What is the minimum sentence for grand theft in Florida? ›
First-degree Grand Theft is a first-degree felony in Florida, which qualifies as a Level 7 offense under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code. If a person is convicted of first-degree Grand Theft, a judge can impose the following penalties: A minimum of 21 months in jail; Probation for 30 years; and.What is the lowest charge for theft? ›
The minimum type of theft charge is called, “Petty Larceny,” which means stealing something up to the value of $1,000.What is petit theft of $100 or more in Florida? ›
Petit Theft 1st Degree can be charged if the stolen property is worth more than $100 but less than $300. Petit theft 1st degree is punishable by: Up to one year in jail. A fine of up to $1,000.How much money is considered laundering? ›
A: Under US Code Section 1957, engaging in financial transactions in property derived from unlawful activity through a US bank or other financial institution or foreign bank in the amount greater than $10,000 is considered a crime under money laundering.What is the average sentence for money laundering? ›
10-20 years in prison. Fines of up to $500,000 or two times the value of the laundered funds.How do you launder money like a criminal? ›
What Are Common Ways to Launder Money? The traditional forms of laundering money, including smurfing, using mules, and opening shell corporations. Other methods include buying and selling commodities, investing in various assets like real estate, gambling, and counterfeiting.