In Pennsylvania, embezzlement crimes are among the most commonly prosecuted offenses in both the state and federal court systems. The crime of embezzlement generally occurs when an individual in a position of trust and responsibility unlawfully takes money or property from an employer, organization, agency, client or family member.
The Severe Consequences of an Embezzlement Conviction
Unlike typical theft cases, federal and state prosecutors often seek more severe prison sentences for individuals charged with embezzlement-related crimes. Prosecutors seek more significant punishment in embezzlement cases due to the serious nature of the violation of trust that occurs in the commission of this type of crime. Embezzlement crimes can vary in scope and duration, ranging from a one-time event to a large-scale operation lasting months or years.
The Impact on Future Employment Opportunities
In addition to a lengthy prison sentence, a conviction for an embezzlement crime in state or federal court can have lifelong adverse effects on your personal and professional opportunities. For many occupations, an embezzlement conviction can severely limit your ability to find employment especially if the work involves handling the money or property of others. It is important to have a knowledgeable and dedicated criminal defense attorney on your side if you are facing embezzlement charges.
Bucks County Financial Crimes Defense Attorney
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals charged with embezzlement crimes in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
Pennsylvania Embezzlement Crimes
Examples of common embezzlement crimes include the diversion of employer funds by an employee for personal use, the theft of funds from an institution or organization by a bookkeeper or accountant, the theft of client funds by an attorney or other individual acting in a fiduciary role or the theft of money or property by a family member acting as a caretaker or guardian. Depending on the facts of your case, you may face any of the following embezzlement-related offenses including:
- Theft by deception
- Theft by unlawful taking
- Receiving stolen property
- Identity theft
- Access device fraud
- Failure to make required disposition of funds
- Dealing in proceeds from unlawful activities
Penalties for Pennsylvania Embezzlement Crimes
The penalties for an embezzlement-related crime in Pennsylvania vary depending on the grading of the offense, the prior criminal history of the accused and the amount of money or property alleged to have been stolen or misappropriated. Most Pennsylvania embezzlement-related crimes are graded as felonies. Prior to sentencing, the judge is provided with a sentencing guideline form outlining the recommended sentencing range for the offense based on the criminal history of the accused and the severity of the crime. I can explain the process to you if you are facing sentencing for an embezzlement offense or other financial crime.
Sentencing Alternatives in Embezzlement Cases
The sentencing judge may choose between various sentencing alternatives, including probation, house arrest, incarceration in a county jail, intermediate punishment or incarceration in a state prison. Some individuals sentenced to state prison may be eligible for early release under the Recidivism Risk Reduction Initiative (RRRI). The Department of Corrections believes that individuals who receive early parole through RRRI are less likely to re-offend once they are released back into the community. Individuals who receive early parole through RRRI are less likely to re-offend once they obtain their release from custody. I can determine your eligibility for sentencing alternatives if you are facing charges for embezzlement-related crimes.
Federal Embezzlement Crimes
The United States Attorney prosecutes federal embezzlement crimes. Federal embezzlement crimes generally involve securities theft, theft across state lines, theft involving federal government contracts, or theft related to services funded by the federal government.
Many federal agencies are responsible for investigating federal embezzlement crimes. These agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Under the federal sentencing guidelines, individuals convicted of federal embezzlement crimes face significant prison time, fines and restitution.
The Prosecution’s Burden of Proof in a Financial Crimes Case
For most financial crimes, the prosecutor must prove that, in committing the offense, the accused acted with a specific intent or state of mind. In certain cases, I have been able to successfully rebut the prosecutor’s evidence of specific intent by establishing that the accused accessed the money or property under the mistaken belief that he or she was the rightful owner. Evidence of specific intent can also be disproved by demonstrating that the accused accessed the money or property with the intent to return it to the rightful owner.
Pre-Trial Defense Investigation
I will conduct a comprehensive examination of the facts and circumstances of your case to establish any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and determine all available defenses against the charges. Large-scale embezzlement cases will usually require the use of a defense investigator to subpoena necessary business and financial records and to interview witnesses favorable to the defense. In addition, a defense forensic accountant familiar with computer forensics and electronic evidence can be used to analyze and interpret complex financial records, including bank records, financial statements and other documents.
Using Forensic Experts to Establish a Defense
A thorough defense forensic examination of the evidence may reveal a lack of sufficient evidence indicating a crime occurred. If this is the case, the prosecutor will likely not achieve a conviction if the case were to proceed to trial. Under these circumstances, the prosecutor may choose to withdraw the charges or offer a plea agreement to lesser offenses. A defense investigation may also reveal that the amount of money or property allegedly stolen or misappropriated is far less than the prosecutor claims, thereby resulting in significantly reduced potential jail time, fines and court-ordered restitution.
As part of a comprehensive defense strategy, I will analyze whether the police violated your state and federal constitutional rights at any stage in the investigation and prosecution of the case. Most cases involving embezzlement-related crimes involve some type of search and seizure of evidence by the police.
Search and Seizure Violations in an Embezzlement Case
I will carefully review the evidence in the case to determine whether law enforcement officials followed the proper legal procedures in obtaining a search warrant and whether they followed other appropriate legal protocols in securing evidence in the case. It is often possible to discover through a defense investigation that the police conducted a search and seizure of evidence without sufficient legal authority.
Motion to Suppress Evidence
A Motion to Suppress Evidence can be filed in cases where the police conducted an unconstitutional search and seizure of evidence during the investigation. A successful ruling for a defense Motion to Suppress Evidence will result in the exclusion of the unlawfully obtained evidence from use in the trial. The prosecutor will often agree to withdraw or dismiss the charges if a suppression ruling is granted by the court. I have extensive knowledge in all areas of state and federal search and seizure law.
Common Access Defense
It is possible to establish the innocence of an individual charged with embezzlement by proving that others had access to the funds or property alleged to have been stolen or misused. In certain cases, duress and entrapment can be used to successfully defend against an embezzlement-related criminal charge. I can review the facts and evidence in your case to determine the most effective legal defense to fight the charges.
Resolving the Case Through a Plea Agreement
A negotiated plea agreement can often be used to resolve an embezzlement case when a viable defense against the charges does not exist. A negotiated plea agreement will generally result in greatly reduced penalties for the accused. A negotiated plea bargain can include specific provisions reducing the charges, fines, court costs, restitution and jail time the accused will face upon conviction.
Benefits of a Negotiated Plea Agreement
A negotiated plea bargain is also beneficial to the prosecutor, especially when the prosecutor’s evidence is weak. Negotiated plea agreements are often favored in the court system because they eliminate the extraordinary time and expense of conducting a trial. I have extensive experience in the plea agreement negotiating process for financial crimes. I can evaluate whether a plea agreement will provide the best resolution of your case.
The Importance of the Sentencing Hearing
The sentencing hearing in a financial crimes case is one of the most important hearings in the criminal court process. Most people charged with embezzlement crimes are not hardened criminals who set out to steal or misappropriate the money or property of others. It is not uncommon for embezzlement crimes to occur when an individual is suffering from mental illness, substance abuse or a gambling addiction.
Preparing for the Sentencing Hearing
Some people may commit embezzlement crimes due to serious financial difficulties such as the accumulation of overwhelming debt. It is important for the sentencing judge to be presented with this type of mitigating background information when the sentencing hearing takes place. In some cases, evidence of pre-sentencing drug and alcohol or psychological treatment will be prepared for submission to the sentencing judge.
In most cases, an individual facing sentencing for embezzlement-related charges has led an exemplary and law-abiding life. Unfortunately, the prosecutor will often describe you in the worst possible way to the sentencing judge. I can help you present the proper information about your background, character and potential for rehabilitation to ensure that the sentencing judge receives an accurate and complete reflection of you as a person.
Comprehensive Financial Crimes Defense
I have extensive experience representing individuals charged with a variety of financial crimes. Commonly charged state and federal financial crimes include forgery, identity theft, welfare fraud, internet fraud, credit card fraud, computer crimes, insurance fraud, tax crimes, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and securities fraud. Contact me if you find yourself under investigation and are facing charges for any state or federal financial crimes. I will fully explain all of your legal defense options to help you successfully resolve your case.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you have been charged with an embezzlement crime in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties, you must act quickly to protect your rights and build the strongest possible defense against the charges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.