Philadelphia Embezzlement Attorney
Protecting the Rights of Individuals Accused of Embezzlement
White collar crimes like embezzlement often seem less serious than they actually are, because they are generally accomplished without violence or the threat of violence. In addition, in many cases, the party affected by embezzlement is often an organization rather than an individual, which can make it seem like a victimless crime.
In reality, embezzlement is a serious criminal offense under both state and federal law that can result in consequences that can affect you for the rest of your life. If you are convicted of embezzlement, you could face fines, restitution, probation, community service, and even jail time. In addition, you could be subjected to significant professional consequences (such as the loss of licenses) and may have difficulty ever securing another job. For this reason, if you have been accused of embezzlement or are currently under investigation, contact an attorney, such as Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer Brian Zeiger, today.
What Is Embezzlement?
The distinguishing factor between embezzlement and other forms of theft is that the person accused of embezzlement had access to the property at issue—he used a position of trust to misappropriate property. Examples of conduct that would likely fall within the definition of embezzlement:
- Taking supplies from the workplace for use at home
- Taking clients’ money and using it to fund personal expenditures or investment
- Failing to “ring up” items for sale and instead pocketing the money
- Falsifying payroll for personal benefit
- Overtime fraud
- Inflating prices and diverting the excess money for personal gain
- Taking public funds and using them for personal items
Both federal and state laws prohibit embezzlement. Under Pennsylvania law, embezzlement is consolidated within the statute prohibiting theft. On the other hand, federal law criminalizes embezzlement on the part of bank or government employees. Whether an individual will be charged on the state or federal level depends on the specifics of the case and which law enforcement agency was responsible for the investigation. In some cases, both a federal embezzlement case and a state theft case can be brought simultaneously and be based on the same set of facts.
Embezzlement Charges Are Often the Result of Long-Term and Extensive Investigations
Unlike street crimes such as drug offenses, drunk driving, assault, or robbery, people accused of embezzlement are rarely caught in the act. Typically, these cases arise after significant investigations on the part of state or federal authorities. This may involve visual surveillance, analysis of bank records, wiretaps, witness interviews, interception of electronic communications such as email or texts, and more.
In addition, during an embezzlement investigation, authorities may interview the target of the investigation without letting him know he is, in fact, the target. For this reason, if law enforcement ever asks to “just to talk to you” about an ongoing investigation, be certain to have an attorney accompany you to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you do not say or do anything that could incriminate you.
Because embezzlement cases are often the result of a significant investigation, an experienced attorney often has ample opportunities to find issues with the way law enforcement conducted the investigation. Typically, to search a place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, the police must obtain a warrant or have probable cause that a crime has been committed. If law enforcement conducts a search in the absence of either, the evidence that was illegally gathered can become inadmissible in court. In many cases, without access to critical evidence, prosecutors are forced to drop a case in its entirety. Even in cases where the suppressed evidence is not necessary to move forward with a prosecution, excluding evidence from trial can often significantly weaken the state’s case, potentially resulting in an acquittal or a more favorable plea bargain offer.
Why You Need the Representation of an Embezzlement Attorney
If you have been accused of embezzlement, it is imperative to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. Embezzlement is a specific criminal offense that involves complicated issues regarding the defendant’s intent and the nature of the property taken. Even if there were no constitutional violations that justify the suppression of evidence, other legal defenses available may keep you from being convicted. Common defenses against allegations of embezzlement include:
- Entrapment – This happens when a government agent unlawfully induces a person to commit a crime that she otherwise would not have committed. In some cases, setting “bait” to embezzle may be considered entrapment.
- Absence of intent – Embezzlement requires that a person intend to deprive another person of property. So, if you accidentally traveled with client or company property in your suitcase, for example, it is unlikely that you would be found guilty of embezzlement.
- Duress – Duress occurs when a person believes that he will suffer harm or be in danger if he refuses to engage in a certain course of action. For example, if you embezzled funds on behalf of others based on credible threats made toward you or your family, you could raise that duress as a defense.
The availability of these and other defenses is not always apparent, so have an attorney review your case as soon as possible.
Call Brian Zeiger Today to Speak to a Philadelphia Embezzlement Lawyer
Embezzlement and other crimes involving the misappropriation of property can result in significant penalties, including a lengthy sentence in federal prison. As a result, if you are facing accusations of embezzlement in the Philadelphia area, you should speak to an attorney as soon possible. Brian J. Zeiger is an experienced Philadelphia white collar criminal defense lawyer who will protect your rights throughout your entire case. To schedule a free case evaluation with Mr. Zeiger, call our office today at (215) 546-0340 or send us an email through our .