SKILLED IN EMBEZZLEMENT CASES
EMBEZZLEMENT IS GENERALLY CLASSIFIED AS A ‘WHITE COLLAR CRIME’
Embezzlement refers to a specific type of property theft: it occurs when a person who was placed in a privileged position — often an employee or a professional with a fiduciary duty — takes advantage of that position in order to misappropriate money or other property. As no violence is involved, embezzlement is generally classified as a ‘white collar crime’. Still, it is a very serious criminal offense that can destroy a person’s career and take away their freedom.
At Groth & Associates, our top-rated embezzlement lawyers in Ohio believe that every person deserves a strong, aggressive legal defense. We work tirelessly to protect the rights and interests of our clients. If you were charged with embezzlement or any related crime in Ohio, we are here to help. To set up a free, fully private legal consultation, please reach out to our Toledo law office today.
WHAT IS EMBEZZLEMENT?
Embezzlement is the misappropriation or withholding of property or assets for the purpose of conversion (theft). What distinguishes embezzlement from other forms of theft committed by a person is to whom the assets/property were entrusted. Embezzlement may be committed by financial advisors, other professionals, bank officers, employees, contractors, or close family members.
UNDERSTANDING THE EMBEZZLEMENT LAWS IN OHIO
SOME STATES HAVE SPECIFIC EMBEZZLEMENT LAWS ON THE BOOKS
Some states have specific embezzlement laws on the books. However, in Ohio, embezzlement is typically charged under the state’s general property theft statute (Ohio Rev. Code § 2913.02). To obtain a conviction for embezzlement, Ohio prosecutors must be able to prove the following three required elements:
- The defendant had some type of privileged relationship with the victim that granted them access to assets/property;
- The defendant actually obtain money/funds/property from the defendant through fraudulent means; and
- The defendant had criminal intent; they knowingly and intentionally embezzled assets/property for personal or professional gain.
As with other theft charges, the seriousness of an embezzlement charge will depend on a number of different factors. Though, by far, the single most important factor is the value of assets or property that was allegedly embezzled by the defendant.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR EMBEZZLEMENT IN OHIO?
Depending on the nature of the allegations, embezzlement can be charged as a misdemeanor offense or as a felony offense. Once again, the most important factor will be the total value of the assets that were allegedly embezzled. Specifically, Ohio operates under the following guidelines for property theft, including embezzlement:
- Embezzlement of less than $1,000: A misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to 180 days in prison and $1,000 in fines.
- Embezzlement of $1,000 to $7,500: A fifth degree felony offense, punishable by up to 365 days in prison and $2,000 in fines.
- Embezzlement of $7,500 to $150,000: A fourth degree felony offense, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and $5,000 in fines.
- Embezzlement of $150,000 to $750,000: A third degree felony offense, punishable by up to three years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
As with other criminal cases, the specific nature of the punishment for a conviction or guilty plea for embezzlement will depend on other factors as well. For example, a defendant’s prior criminal record, or lack thereof, could affect their sentence. It should be noted that embezzlement from a vulnerable person — including senior citizens, disabled people, and military members on active duty — can always be charged as a felony in Ohio. This is true even if the total value of the money allegedly embezzled was less than $1,000.
DEFENDING EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES
If you are being investigated for embezzlement or you have already been arrested for and charged with embezzlement, you should contact an experienced Toledo criminal defense lawyer immediately. Embezzlement is a very serious criminal offense. Not only could you lose your freedom for an extended period of time, but the mere suspicion can cause serious damage to your personal and professional reputation. You need a strong Ohio white collar crime defense attorney on your side. There are many different defenses available to embezzlement charges. Some of the most notable defenses to embezzlement allegations include:
- Authorization/Permission: If you had authorization or permission to access assets or property, then embezzlement charges must be dropped. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors must be able to prove that a defendant used fraudulent means to exceed their authority.
- You Never Took the Money: Unfortunately, some defendants face charges despite the fact that they never actually took money or property for personal gain.
- Lack of Intent: Embezzlement requires intent. If you were accused of embezzling funds, but you had a good faith, genuine belief that you were doing something you had the right to do, then the embezzlement charges should be dismissed.
- Insufficient Evidence: The burden is always on the prosecution to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Without sufficient evidence of guilt, an embezzlement case should not go forward.
- Duress: If you committed embezzlement because you were under duress, you may be excused from the crime. For example, a secretary or other employee who participated in a scheme at the instruction of an authority figure may have a duress defense to an embezzlement charge.
What defense strategy makes sense for an individual person will always depend on the unique nature of their case. You may need to fight back against false or unjust embezzlement charges aggressively. Our Toledo criminal defense attorneys know how to get false charges dropped. In other circumstances, the best defense is to focus on reducing punishment — staying out of jail.
WERE YOU CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLEMENT IN OHIO?
We are here to help. At Groth & Associates, our Ohio embezzlement lawyers have the skills and experience to represent defendants facing embezzlement charges. If you or your loved one was arrested for embezzlement and any other financial crime in Ohio, you need professional legal support. For a free, fully confidential consultation, please contact us today. From our law office in Toledo, we represent clients in Lucas County and throughout Northwestern Ohio. We will fight for your rights.