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As a white collar crime, the charges for embezzlement in Miami are usually made in federal court but certain conditions do exist where state courts may be involved. Under Florida law, it is also considered a form of theft. This means that anyone who embezzles money or goods may risk being charged with theft. Embezzlement typically occurs when a person steals assets and/or property from another who trusted them. This differs from simple stealing in that the offender was originally in a position of trust. Florida Statute § 812.014 spells out the penalties that can be imposed for these types of crimes.

For someone to be convicted of embezzlement, several things need to be proven by a prosecutor:

  • A financial arrangement needs to be formed between the defendant and victim; also known as a fiduciary relation. This means the victim placed their trust and reliance on the defendant to manage property or funds. Common fiduciary relationships where embezzlement may happen include banks and customers, stockbrokers and their clients, as well as employees that offer company accounting services.
  • The defendant received the property and passed the funds to themselves or a third party via the fiduciary relationship. Simply having access to the funds is not sufficient. The defendant must have utilized the access to seize ownership of the property for their own use.
  • The defendant must have acted intentionally. If the defendant made a mistake in the transfer of funds belonging to a company to him or herself, and they can prove it was not done intentionally, this may not be deemed embezzlement.

Embezzlement can occur in many different ways. A bank teller, for example, has legitimate access to customer money, and is allowed to handle the money but not to take it. Business officers and staff may also embezzle funds belonging to the organization, as can family members caring for a friend, professionals such as attorneys or members of the board who manage money from customers or creditors, or someone in a position of confidence involving money or property of someone else. The cases can vary from easy to elaborate. An accountant may spend months or years removing small sums of money from the company's accounts and updating the records so that no fraud is detected. Then again, an employee with access to substantial funds might at once pick up a large sum and then attempt to leave without being captured.

Cash is only one example that embezzlement may affect. An employee who has been granted control over company equipment or vehicles may attempt to permanently take home the equipment in the hope that the theft would not be detected, or they may try and receive a profit from the sale of the equipment.

Embezzlement charges may be brought to both the federal and state courts, although it is far more likely to see federal court prosecution in large-scale embezzlement cases. Persons convicted of embezzlement are being aggressively prosecuted. Those accused of embezzlement may face lengthy prison terms because the courts will see such persons as fiduciaries who steal from individuals that placed their trust in them.

Florida Statute § 812.014 spells out the penalties that can be imposed for these types of crimes. How severe the penalty one faces hinges upon a myriad of factors including how much was stolen. For some offenses, defendants can face a first degree felony, punishable by up to thirty years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Prison time and fines, even though a defendant has never been charged with a crime before, can be common penalties for committing embezzlement crimes.

The general information provided above about embezzlement in Fort Lauderdale is meant for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for speaking directly with an attorney about the facts and circumstances of your case. Please call 954-500-0003 in Broward or 305-674-0003 in Miami to schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh.

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