Charged With Embezzlement / Misapropriation of Funds? We Can Help
Embezzlement is a form of theft involving the misappropriation or stealing of assets entrusted to someone’s care or control. Embezzlement can occur in various settings, such as in the workplace or a business context, and is sometimes referred to as employee theft. Embezzlement can also be committed by public officials who abuse their position of trust and fiduciary obligations.
Embezzlement is a serious crime with severe consequences, including jail time, fines, restitution, and significant damage to your career and reputation. If you or someone you love is facing embezzlement charges in Franklin County, Ohio, it is crucial to understand the law and the options available to you.
At Luftman, Heck, & Associates, our Columbus criminal defense attorneys have considerable experience in embezzlement cases. We can help guide you through the legal process and provide effective representation to protect your rights and interests. For a free and confidential consultation, call (614) 500-3836 or contact us online 24/7.
What is Embezzlement in Ohio?
Embezzlement is a white-collar crime. It is typically committed by people in positions of trust or authority, such as accountants, bookkeepers, or financial managers.
When Do Embezzlement Charges Happen in Ohio?
Every day employees can easily find themselves accused of misappropriation of funds. Some common scenarios in which someone may be accused of embezzlement include:
Embezzlement often occurs in the workplace when an employee misappropriates company funds, assets, or property for personal gain. This can include stealing cash from a cash register, diverting funds to personal accounts, or using company property for personal use.
Embezzlement can also occur in non-profit organizations when an employee or volunteer takes funds intended for charitable purposes for personal gain. This can include misusing donations or grants, diverting funds to personal accounts, or using non-profit property for personal reasons.
Misappropriation can happen in financial institutions when an employee misuses or steals funds or assets from client accounts. This can include stealing money from client accounts, diverting funds to personal accounts, or misusing financial instruments.
Embezzling from a Government Agency
When government employees misappropriate public funds or property for personal gain, it is also a form of embezzlement. This can include misusing government credit cards, stealing government property, or diverting funds to individual accounts.
Embezzlement is also known to happen in investment fraud schemes when an investment advisor misappropriates funds or assets from client accounts for personal gain. This can include diverting funds to personal accounts, misusing financial instruments, or making unauthorized trades.
Embezzlement from an Estate
When a trustee or executor misappropriates funds or assets from an estate for personal gain, they can also face embezzlement charges. This can include diverting funds to personal accounts, misusing estate property, or making unauthorized distributions.
Ohio Embezzlement Laws -Ohio Revised Code §2913.02
In Ohio, embezzlement is a type of theft covered under Ohio Revised Code 2913.02. Specifically, Ohio law states, “No person, with the purpose to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or exert control over either the property or services in any of the following ways:
- Without the consent of the owner or person authorized to consent
- Beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of the owner or authorized person
- By deception or threat.”
Penalties for Embezzlement in Ohio
The penalties for embezzlement in Ohio will vary depending on the value of the property involved and the accused’s criminal history. Generally, the penalties one can expect if convicted of embezzlement in Ohio are heavily influenced by the value allegedly embezzled:
- Less than $1,000: Misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Between $1,000 and $7,500: Felony of the fifth degree, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Between $7,500 and $150,000: Felony of the fourth degree, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Between $150,000 and $750,000: Felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- More than $750,000: Felony of the second degree, punishable by up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Professional License Consequences
In addition to jail, fines, and restitution, an embezzlement conviction will negatively impact your life. A theft conviction will hurt your reputation, making it incredibly hard to find a decent job. Suppose you were a financial advisor or in a profession that requires a professional certification. A conviction for embezzlement can result in the revocation or suspension of these licenses, effectively ending a person’s career.
Federal Embezzlement Charges
In addition to Ohio law, embezzlement is also a federal crime. Federal embezzlement law is governed by 18 U.S. Code Section 656. It is a crime for an officer, director, agent, or employee of any bank, with intent to injure or defraud the bank or any other person, make false entries in any book, report, or statement of the bank.
The penalties for federal embezzlement state anyone who violates the statute shall be fined up to $1,000,000 or imprisoned for up to 30 years, or both. The penalties for violating federal embezzlement law are in addition to any civil penalties or fines regulatory agencies may impose.
The Elements of Embezzlement in Ohio
To be convicted of embezzlement, the prosecution must prove certain elements. These include:
- A fiduciary relationship exists between the accused and the alleged victim.
- The accused had access to the property in question because of this relationship.
- The accused took possession of the property, either physically or constructively.
- The accused intended to deprive the owner of the property, either temporarily or permanently.
How to Defend Against Embezzlement Charges in Ohio
Despite what a prosecutor or police officer says if you’ve been accused or questioned about embezzlement charges, these cases are rarely open and shut. The state needs to establish the crime’s elements. What you allegedly knew, had control over, and did with the funds in question matters.
Several defenses may be available, and your criminal attorney may use a number of ways to beat your embezzlement charges. Common embezzlement defenses include:
- Lack of intent: To be convicted of embezzlement, the prosecution must prove that the accused intended to deprive the property owner. If the accused did not have this intent, they might have a valid defense. For example, if the accused believed they were authorized to use the property in question, they may not have had the intent to embezzle.
- Mistake of fact: If the accused believed they had a legitimate right to use the property, they might be able to argue that they made a mistake of fact. For example, suppose an employee took company funds to pay for a bill they believed was owed by the company, but the bill was a personal expense. In that case, they may be able to argue they made an honest mistake.
- Duress: If the accused was forced to embezzle the property under threat of harm, they might be able to argue that they acted under duress.
- Consent: If the property owner consented to the accused’s use of the property, the accused might be able to argue that they had permission to use it.
Our Columbus Embezzlement Lawyers Can Help You
Facing embezzlement accusations is a serious matter that requires skilled legal representation. You may have done your job to the best of your ability when an account review uncovered an honest mistake. But this is not something you want to handle on your own.
An experienced defense attorney for embezzlement charges can help you understand your legal options, build a strong defense, and protect your rights throughout the legal process. At LHA, our knowledgeable and committed embezzlement lawyers can help you in the following ways:
- Explain & Defend Your Rights: Embezzlement charges can be complex and challenging. We can help you understand your rights, evaluate the evidence against you, and develop a defense strategy that protects your interests.
- Investigate the Case: Embezzlement allegations usually involve detailed and confusing account information and banking records. Our criminal defense attorneys will scrutinize the case, identify flaws in the state’s argument, and find ways to support your position.
- Negotiate for You: Our embezzlement lawyers can negotiate with the prosecution and any regulatory agencies involved to seek a reduction in charges, plea agreements, or other favorable outcomes. We can also work to mitigate the potential consequences of a conviction.
- Represent you in court: Our lawyers can present a strong defense if your case goes to trial. We will introduce expert financial testimony, cross-examine witnesses, present evidence, and make arguments to the jury in your favor.
Contact our Embezzlement Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Facing embezzlement in Columbus, Ohio, is a serious matter that requires skilled legal representation. An experienced embezzlement defense lawyer at LHA can help you understand your options, build a strong defense, and protect your rights.
If you or someone you know is accused of employee theft, embezzlement, or any other theft crime, schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced embezzlement attorneys. Call (614) 500-3836 or contact us online 24/7.