Key Insights on How You Can Defend Against Federal Embezzlement Charges

Embezzlement, as defined by the United States Department of Justice, is the dishonest appropriation of property by someone entrusted with it. Unlike larceny, where the initial taking is unauthorized, embezzlement involves a lawful possession that turns unlawful due to deceitful appropriation.

This crime can occur in various business contexts where a trust relationship exists, such as a bank teller taking money from a customer or an employee stealing from a company. If you face federal embezzlement charges, contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 for a free consultation.

When Does Embezzlement Become a Federal Crime?

Federal embezzlement charges arise when the stolen money or property belongs to the federal government, or when it involves a person with legal access to these assets. While states have their own embezzlement laws and penalties, certain situations trigger federal jurisdiction. The United States Code lists 30 specific statutes addressing theft and embezzlement, including:

  • Embezzlement of public funds, property, or documents
  • Embezzlement related to counterfeiting materials
  • Embezzlement of federal funds by officials, employees, or agents
  • Embezzlement by bank executives or employees
  • Embezzlement from an employee benefit plan
  • Embezzlement in the healthcare industry

Consequences of a Federal Embezzlement Conviction

The penalties for federal embezzlement depend on several factors, such as the value of the embezzled property, the length of the theft, and the level of trust placed in the defendant. For instance, embezzling over $1,000 from the federal government can result in a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a maximum of 10 years in prison. For amounts less than $1,000, the penalties can include a fine of up to $100,000 and/or a year in prison.

Some forms of federal embezzlement, such as those involving banking institutions or federal employees, carry harsher penalties. Convictions can lead to fines up to $1,000,000 and/or up to 30 years in prison, depending on the circumstances. In rare cases, courts may impose fines up to double the embezzled amount.

Statute of Limitations for Federal Embezzlement

The statute of limitations for most noncapital federal embezzlement offenses is five years. This means that prosecution must commence within five years of the alleged offense. While some crimes have longer statutes of limitations, embezzlement generally does not.

Defending Against Embezzlement Charges in Federal Court

Federal embezzlement is a felony prosecuted in federal court. Given its financial nature and potential harm to many individuals or businesses, the government aggressively pursues these cases. The prosecution must prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt, including:

  • A fiduciary relationship with the victim
  • Entrustment with the victim’s money or property
  • Illegal taking of the victim’s money or property
  • Intent to deprive the owner of their property by appropriating it

Federal Embezzlement Defense Strategies

Intent is crucial in embezzlement cases. A defense attorney may argue that you believed you were the rightful owner of the property or did not intend to deprive the owner. Other potential defense strategies include:

  • Lack of personal benefit from the property taken
  • Entrapment
  • Duress at the time of the crime
  • Insufficient evidence to prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Expiration of the statute of limitations
  • Mental illness at the time of the offense

Call a Federal Embezzlement Defense Attorney Today

Facing federal embezzlement charges is serious and requires experienced legal representation. Chambers Law Firm has handled numerous federal cases and offers aggressive, effective defense strategies. To learn more about how we can help, call 714-760-4088 for a free legal consultation.

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