Understanding Embezzlement Charges in Florida
A person who uses their privileged position to take money or property from an employer or other party without permission can be charged with embezzlement. In Florida, embezzlement is a very serious criminal offense.
If convicted of embezzlement, a defendant could face significant jail time. Here, our top-rated Miami criminal defense lawyers provide an overview of embezzlement charges in Florida. If you were arrested for embezzlement or you are currently being investigated for this crime, it is imperative that you speak to an attorney immediately.
Florida Law: What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement occurs when a person uses a position of trust to steal money or to steal property. Often, these cases happen within a workplace setting — an employee or contractor is accused of taking money from an employer or from a business partner. Though, embezzlement can certainly happen in other settings as well. Notably, the state of Florida does not have a specific statute of embezzlement. This offense is typically charged as a general property theft crime under Florida Statute § 812.014.
What is the Punishment for Embezzlement in Florida?
In Florida, the penalties associated with an embezzlement charge will vary based on a number of different factors. Though, by far, the most important factor is the amount that the defendant is alleged to have embezzled. The higher the value of the money or property that was supposedly taken, the more severe the charges are likely to be. For reference:
- Embezzlement of more than $100,000: Embezzlement of six figures or more can be charged as a first degree felony. A first degree felony is a very serious offense — the maximum punishment is up to 30 years in prison.
- Embezzlement of $20,000 to $99,999: At this amount, embezzlement is typically charged as a second degree felony. This offense can also result in significant jail time.
- Embezzlement of $300 to $19,999: You can be charged with a felony even if you are alleged to have embezzled as little as $300. In Florida, embezzlement of $300 to $19,999 can be charged as a third degree felony offense.
How to Defend an Embezzlement Charge
As with other criminal offenses, embezzlement charges must be handled on a case-by-case basis. The appropriate defense strategy depends on the underlying facts. In some cases, defendants can prove that embezzlement never occurred by:
- Demonstrating a good faith belief that they had a right to use or possess the property; or
- Demonstrating that the owner gave consent for the defendant’s actions.
The defendant may have never taken possession of property at all. There could be a mistake in identity or the charges could be wholly false. False or unjust charges must be defended aggressively. In other cases, the proper defense strategy will be to focus on reducing the penalties associated with an embezzlement conviction. Your lawyer will help you build a strong defense that is well-suited for your individual situation.
Contact Our South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers
At Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC, our Miami criminal defense attorneys offer aggressive, skilled representation to defendants throughout South Florida. If you or your loved one was arrested for embezzlement, we can help. For a free, strictly private initial consultation, please contact our law office at 305-600-3519.