Federal Embezzlement Criminal Defense Lawyers
The government doesn’t take it well, when it thinks a trusted employee has stolen public property. Fight back against accusations of embezzlement and protect your life as you know it with help from The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC.
What Does “Embezzlement” Mean, According To Federal Law?
Embezzlement is a special type of theft crime in which someone has legal access to money or other valuable property, and then steals it.
For federal prosecutors to press embezzlement charges, they must believe two factors to be true:
- The defendant must have been able to access and move around the funds or property in question, even though they didn’t belong to the defendant.
- The defendant stole or misappropriated that money or property for their own, personal gain. (If it was for the benefit of others, then the charge may be something closer to bribery.)
Many private and public employees have access to funds they don’t technically own for their day-to-day responsibilities.
However, they are in a position of trust.
Their employer – in cases of federal embezzlement, that means the federal government – trusts that the monies their employees handle will be used as intended, either in a budget or as previously allocated.
Break that trust, and the government will bring as much force to bear as possible to prevent others from doing the same.
Can The Government Charge Private Employees With Federal-Level Embezzlement?
In a word: Yes.
The federal government can certainly charge private individuals who don’t work directly for the government with embezzlement of private property.
This is especially true for federal contractors. Private employees who steal property or funds provided by the government to the contracting company for personal gain can be charged with embezzlement at the federal level.
For example, an IT firm has a contracting agreement with the local Army base to supply IT services for the service members stationed there.
If one of the firm’s employees steals a laptop that was supplied to the contractor, then that employee could be charged with federal embezzlement.
What Are Different Types Of Embezzlement Charges?
Exactly what type of item is stolen will impact the type of the embezzlement charge filed by federal prosecutors.
Federal embezzlement charges encompass the theft of:
- Public money, property, or records. Everything from government tax revenues to top-secret documents on a thumb drive can be up for embezzlement charges.
- Tools or materials used to counterfeit government-issued items. That includes cash money, of course, but could also include federal identification cards, stamps, and other items.
- Receiving unauthorized deposit of public money. If a government agency puts money in the wrong bank account and that account owner keeps or spends it, they can be charged with embezzlement – even if it wasn’t their fault the money got deposited in the first place.
What Is The Punishment For Federal Embezzlement?
Sentences for federal embezzlement convictions vary. In general, the higher up the defendant was, the more trust they had – and so the more severe the penalty should they be proven to have broken that trust.
These people face up to $250,000 in fines or double what was stolen – whichever is greater – and up to 10 years in federal prison, if convicted of embezzling more than $1,000 in funds or property value:
- U.S. federal court employees
- Any employee of the U.S. Treasury or a public federal depository
- Any federal officer or employee who disperses federal money
- Bank examiners and assistant examiners at Federal Reserve System institutions insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
- Anyone who steals antique art from a museum worth at least $100,000
- Anyone who embezzles from a health care benefit plan
How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Counter Embezzlement Charges?
A criminal defense lawyer experienced at fighting federal charges will be able to fight against embezzlement accusations on your behalf, making sure your constitutional right to a fair trial is kept.
The prosecutor’s case rests on several crucial factors they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the job of your defense team to demonstrate how their evidence doesn’t actually demonstrate what the prosecution says it does.
For example, to get embezzlement charges to stick, the prosecution must prove intent to steal the funds.
If an employee accidentally transferred the money to a personal account and it was spent before they could re-transfer the funds … Well, their criminal defense lawyer may be able to show that the employee did not intend to keep the funds.
Perhaps they raised the alarm as soon as possible with an internal email to their boss. Maybe there’s a phone recording with the bank as they tried to reverse the transfer. Coworkers could be subpoenaed as character witnesses, showing your long-standing reputation at the office as someone who can be trusted.
Any number of things could be presented as evidence to cast doubt on the prosecution’s statement of intent to embezzle.
It’s your defense lawyer’s job to examine the facts of the case and offer this or similar strategies to help you keep your reputation and your freedom.
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