Embezzlement is one of several types of white collar crime. Those accused of committing white collar crimes may work in the banking or financial industries or otherwise have access to company or client funds.
These cases present some unique defense challenges. By definition, embezzlement involves the misappropriation of property or money by someone with stewardship responsibility over the resources. This person is likely highly trusted by employers or those whose assets are in the accused person’s care and control.
An Ohio Valley embezzlement case
As such, there are likely to be feelings of intense betrayal toward the person accused of the crime. Such was the case of one Ohio Valley woman accused of embezzlement in nearby Belmont County, Ohio.
Her employer expressed these thoughts to a local media outlet:
“She was a very trusted, very valuable employee, and obviously she betrayed me. I don’t see any reason for leniency and a slap on the wrist in this case. … I just never expected that I would be here today. That’s someone I really trusted, and it was a total deception.”
In the above case, the employer asked that his former bookkeeper be sentenced to the maximum penalties, and the court complied. This was likely due to her breach of trust and her employer’s anger at the betrayal by his trusted employee.
Key elements of an embezzlement case
To be prosecuted for embezzlement, the following four factors must have occurred:
- A fiduciary relationship was present between the parties wherein one relied on the actions or advice of the other to further their needs.
- A defendant acquired money or property solely via this relationship and not by some other manner.
- A defendant intentionally committed these actions to defraud victims or otherwise divert incomes streams from their lawful destination.
- Defendants must take ownership of said money or assets or transfer ownership to someone other than its lawful owner.
All of the above elements have to be present in order to successfully prosecute someone for embezzlement. Your defense will naturally be dependent upon the circumstances of your case. However, working within those parameters, it’s possible to dismantle the prosecution’s case and inject substantial doubt into the criminal case.