Embezzlement charges are white-collar crimes where a person with fiduciary responsibility in a business or organization is accused of unlawfully stealing funds from that business or organization for their benefit. Depending on whether the charges are brought in federal or state court and the total amount of loss that occurred, you could face as little as time served or as much as up to 30 years in prison.
You may also be placed on probation and must pay restitution and attorney’s fees for the victim’s business or organization.
If you are under investigation or have been arrested for embezzlement in Miami, you must consult a qualified, dedicated South Florida white-collar attorney to discuss your legal options. Call Kirlew Law Firm at 305-521-0484 today to take that first step toward your freedom.
What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement occurs when an individual (often an employee) wrongfully takes money or property that someone entrusted to them for safekeeping. For example, you may have been entrusted with your company’s funds to pay for payroll, inventory, or operating costs, but instead of purchasing the items, you use the money for personal expenses.
The way something is stolen is a critical element of an embezzlement charge, even if it is visible or in the owner’s presence. For example, it is possible that an employer won’t know if there is any money missing if they are not keeping track. This is especially common in businesses where multiple employees have access to funds. It is still illegal in Florida to spend money without prior authorization despite having legal access.
Penalties for Embezzlement in South Florida
In Federal court, embezzlement charges are primarily charged in 18 U.S. Code § 641, 642, and 643. An embezzlement conviction can result in imprisonment of up to ten years. In federal court, embezzlement charges are rarely charged alone. It is usually part of a greater conspiracy, including charges of racketeering and wire fraud. Federal cases involve much more significant amounts of funds stolen, and that loss amount will dictate the length of incarceration a person faces in federal court.
In Florida state court, embezzlement charges in Florida are primarily based on F.S. § 812.014 (or theft statutes). And like theft, the punishment varies based on the severity of what has been stolen.
Embezzlement can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the items taken, their value, and whether the accused has prior embezzlement convictions:
- Embezzlement of property or money valued less than $100 can result in a second-degree misdemeanor charge of petit theft, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or up to $500 in fines.
- Embezzlement of property or money valued between $100 and $1000 is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $500 in fines.
An individual who misappropriates items valued at over $1000 or has a previous conviction for embezzlement may be charged with a felony.
- Embezzlement of less than $20,000 worth of property constitutes a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of five years in jail, five years probation, and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Embezzlement of property valued at $20,000 or more but less than $100,000 is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of fifteen years in jail, fifteen years probation, and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
- If a person has embezzled property worth $100,000 or greater, they may be charged with a first-degree felony. These crimes carry punishments of up to thirty years in prison, thirty years of probation, and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
In addition to the property value, other circumstances, such as an emergency, can obscure the definitions of the different embezzlement charges and result in a greater charge. For clarity, schedule a consultation with a Miami white-collar attorney like Brian Kirlew, Esq.
Act Quickly to Defend Your Rights — Contact the Kirlew Law Firm NOW!
If you are convicted of embezzlement, it will stay on your record, and prospective employers will know about it. Most people who are charged with embezzlement work in a job or area where they are in a position of trust, so if they are convicted, their standing in the community and the opportunities for future employment will be affected. Under the substitute assets theory, the government can also seize funds directly derived from embezzlement or even go after assets not connected to the embezzlement.
Make sure you give yourself a fighting chance — contact the Kirlew Law Firm to get one of South Florida’s best white-collar attorneys on your side. Our mission is to protect your rights and secure a favorable outcome so your life can get back on track. Our team at the Kirlew Law Firm will work closely with you to build a strong defense strategy for your case. Call (305) 521-0484 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.
Antitrust laws were established to protect trade and commerce from abusive practices. Violations can include price-fixing, price discrimination, restraints, and monopolization.
This form of white-collar crime is increasingly common as more people use computers, phones, and other internet-enabled devices to commit acts of fraud, hacking, extortion, and theft.
Thieves take personal information to access banking and financial accounts, make purchases, open utility accounts, or steal tax refunds. In some cases, an identity thief may even use a false identity during an arrest.
This white-collar crime occurs when a thrift utilizes a stolen credit card or other information from that account to make unauthorized purchases. In some cases, they may use the stolen information to take out cash advances against the account.
The illicit selling of fake goods or services over the phone. Many phone scams are framed as a giveaway, or free offer in exchange for sensitive information, like access to banking or credit card accounts.
Often paired with another form of fraud, bankruptcy fraud can be the concealment of assets to prevent forfeiting them, filing incomplete or false forms, filing multiple times in different locations using fake or forged documents, and bribing of court-appointed trustees.
Largely committed by organized crime groups, this form of fraud includes performing unnecessary procedures to bill an insurance company, billing for services that were never rendered, and billing every step of one procedure as if they were individual procedures.
Environmental law makes actions like the illegal disposal of waste, improper storage of hazardous materials, or failure to comply with EPA and state regulations illegal.
An act committed to defraud an insurance company is considered a white-collar crime. This could include attempting to obtain benefits or advantages that an individual is not entitled to or when an insurer denies benefits that someone is due.
One of the most common forms of fraud, mail fraud is when the USPS or private carrier is used to commit a crime of deceit. This could be to obtain money or to sell and distribute illicit goods.
These forms of fraud start with a scheme to steal or obtain financial information by using false representation or promises of goods and services in return.
Crimes committed through extortion and coercion are considered racketeering. Generally, a racketeer obtains money or goods from someone using intimidation tactics or force.
Largely connected to federal government contracting or federally-funded programs, government fraud might involve public housing, agricultural programs, corporate subsidies, and bribery.
This form of white-collar crime is the deliberate failure to pay your taxes or the underpayment of the taxes you owe. It can be underreporting of income, overreporting of deductions, or improperly claiming tax credits and exemptions.
Also called investment fraud, securities fraud involves misrepresenting the information that investors use to make financial decisions.
This is the trading of the stock or securities of a public company that is based on non-public information about the company. This is the profiteering of information based on a company’s assets.
A bribe is the giving or receiving of something of value in order to influence the actions of another person or group.
The major focus of the FBI, public corruption covers a variety of crimes, including the violation of federal law by public officials, fraud related to the procurement, contracts, and funding of federal programs, and other crimes that are related to local, state, and federal governments.
By withholding assets, funds, or goods from an employer or business partner, you are committing an act of embezzlement.
Generally sponsored by foreign entities or outside corporations, economic espionage can target the U.S. government, U.S. companies, or other establishments and institutions. Economic espionage is the unlawful obtaining of financial information
Trade secrets are the information or assets that give a company an advantage over others in the market. The theft of these assets is when someone uses this information without consent of the business.
In addition to State White Collar crime, we also represent clients charged with Federal White Collar crimes,
How are White Collar Crimes Investigated?
In almost every federal white-collar criminal investigation, the federal agents and local police officers involved in the case shadow their suspects for months and even years. They utilize wiretaps, subpoenaed bank records, videotape conversations and meetings, property and assets, business records, and cooperating witnesses. The agents often seek to make pre-indictment deals with codefendants or coworkers who they threaten to charge if they don’t talk.
The feds have unlimited resources and they are extremely patient in their investigations. Many times, an agent will get so committed to an investigation that they bend the rules, alleged they witnessed activity that they didn’t and innocent people get wrapped up in the conspiracy that they knew nothing about. This is why it is critical to contact a Miami white-collar attorney the moment you suspect you are the target of a white-collar criminal investigation. With the help of our investigators and forensic accountants, we can often mitigate the exposure a client may face in a white collar criminal prosecution.
What is White-Collar Crime?
Generally, white-collar crime is investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities. This means that white-collar crime cases have higher conviction rates than other crimes. Federal prosecutors are able to leverage more resources to pursue a white-collar crime case and are encouraged to close the case quickly.
The punishment for a white-collar crime varies based on what level the crime is being prosecuted at, whether state or federal, and the amount of money involved in the crime. There are no set guidelines that dictate the severity of penalty based on the amount of money stolen; however, generally, larger amounts are punished more severely.
Since the 2002 and 2008 financial crises, there have been more penalties and convictions for white-collar crimes, and as such, penalties have become more severe. On average, a sentence for money laundering is about 48 months in prison. Those convicted of bribery could face 16 months, and those for fraud, 12 months. Tax offenses generally result in 16 months of jail time. And if there are more than five victims, the loss amount is in the millions as opposed to the thousands or the accused qualifies for a host of other enhancements, these penalties can be significantly higher.
When You Should Hire an Attorney When Convicted of a White Collar Crime?
Given the harsh nature of the penalties for white-collar crimes and that federal authorities often lead these investigations, you must hire an attorney in Miami as soon as you’re convicted. In some cases, defendants are only aware of the investigation just a few weeks or months before an arrest is made. It’s important to use any lead time you may have to build a case with an attorney.
While your attorney can’t stop an investigation, they can work with you to defend your rights before, during, and after the trial. If nothing else, you must have a legal representative with you whenever you deal with a federal investigator or while you’re being questioned.
Why You Need a Competent Attorney
When you work with a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at the Kirlew Law Firm, they’ll maintain clear lines of communication with the prosecution throughout your investigation. This could lead to a favorable negotiation before any arrests are made, or the formal prosecution starts.
More than just negotiations, a competent white-collar crime attorney can help draft legal defenses that can help your case. Our attorneys can cross-examine witnesses, manage information about the case, and challenge physical exhibits and financial records that may be used to seal your case. Ultimately, a talented attorney like Brian Kirlew can find small inconsistencies or faults in the prosecution to bolster your defense.
Contact a Miami White Collar Criminal Attorney today!
If you are being investigated for a White Collar crime at the state or federal level (or both), the sooner you get a qualified attorney on your side to protect your rights, the better. Brian Kirlew, Esq. is experienced and skilled at handling these complex and sensitive matters, and is here to represent you in court. Our criminal defense attorneys in Miami are proud to offer you a free phone consultation to ensure that we can best serve you. Contact us immediately to get started.