Ordinary people quickly find themselves in extraordinary circumstances when they are accused of embezzling from an employer, organization, or public entity. These “white collar criminals” likely never imagined facing conviction of a state or federal crime. Often, they never intended to commit any criminal act. Many times, they tell themselves that they are “borrowing” from the company coffers and will pay the money back before anyone notices that it is missing. Other times, they feel the company owes them, and they are just taking what is rightfully theirs. However, neither of these motives excuses the law. Misappropriating funds or property for one’s personal use is a crime, and penalties include not only restitution and fines, but also lengthy incarceration in a state or federal penitentiary. For someone who never meant any harm, the prospect of years in prison can be devastating.
If you have been accused of embezzling money or property, it is critical that you take swift action to defend yourself against the charges. Your first step is securing legal counsel and defense representation. The criminal defense law group of Phillips & Associates has established a reputation as one of the leading law firms in Oklahoma, representing defendants in criminal cases in Oklahoma City and across the state, in state and federal courts. We continually demonstrate successful white collar crimes defense, obtaining dismissals and acquittals for many of our clients.
When you are charged with embezzling, your personal and professional reputation is at stake. A criminal conviction can cost you your career, your financial stability, and your freedom. Call today to speak with an embezzlement lawyer who can help you resolve your situation quickly and effectively.
The word “embezzlement” conjures images of complicated, high-dollar financial schemes, but the actuality can be much less extreme. While embezzlement can certainly involve pilfering hundreds of thousands of dollars from a large corporation, it can also include taking smaller amounts--skimming from the cash register or stealing office supplies.
By definition, embezzlement is “the fraudulent appropriation of property of any person or legal entity, legally obtained, to any use or purpose not intended or authorized by its owner, or the secretion of the property with the fraudulent intent to appropriate it to such use or purpose” (21 O.S. § 1451). In other words, if you have been entrusted with the property or funds of another person, organization, company, or entity, and you use that money or property in an unintended or unauthorized manner, you may be charged with embezzlement.
Embezzlement actions include falsifying deposits, writing checks from the employer’s or agency’s accounts to one’s personal accounts, using a company credit card or bank account for personal purchases, underreporting income, creating false invoices and pocketing the payments, overbilling customers and keeping the difference, and other actions in which funds or property intended for or belonging to the company or organization are misappropriated by the embezzler.
Though embezzlement is stealing, the distinction is made because an embezzler actually has a right to handle the accounts and money from which he or she is embezzling; however, using that money or property in an unauthorized manner or appropriating it for personal use is illegal.
In general, prosecution must prove four elements to obtain an embezzlement conviction:
Embezzlement is generally prosecuted as a state crime, but may fall under federal jurisdiction in certain circumstances. For example, embezzlement is a federal offense if the victim is the United States government or its agencies or a federally-insured bank.
As a statutory offense in Oklahoma, embezzlement carries criminal penalties that vary depending on the nature of the crime and the value of the embezzled funds or property:
Fines, restitution, and imprisonment are the legal consequences of criminal conviction. Personal consequences include a shattered professional reputation, strained personal relationships, and a criminal record that can jeopardize your ability to find a job, get an education, and secure a financial loan. A felony conviction, even for a non-violent felony like embezzlement, carries collateral consequences that impact your right to vote, your right to bear arms, and your ability to obtain or keep certain professional licenses.
When you have been accused of embezzling from a company or organization, finding experienced legal counsel is essential for a successful outcome. When employers and prosecutors are out to get you, we are on your side, fighting for your rights and interests. Call Phillips & Associates today for a confidential, no-risk evaluation of your case.