Can You Be Charged With Embezzlement In Florida If You Are Not An Employee?
Embezzlement is a serious white collar offense. It involves a person abusing a position of trust to steal money or property. While a significant number of embezzlement charges are filed against employees, you can be arrested and charged with embezzlement even if you are not an employee of the alleged victim. Here, our Orlando white collar criminal defense attorney provides a more detailed overview of the key things non-employees should know about embezzlement charges in Florida.
Embezzlement is Prosecuted Under Florida’s Theft Statute
In Florida, embezzlement is not considered a standalone crime—or at least it is not prosecuted under its own specific state statute. Instead, it is prosecuted under the state’s theft statutes:
- Florida Statutes § 812.012; and
- Florida Statutes § 812.014.
Theft is defined as knowingly obtaining or using, or endeavoring to obtain/use someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the person of the benefits. In general, embezzlement is typically defined as the misappropriating funds or assets entrusted by a person who was placed in a position of trust.
There is No Requirement of an Employer/Employee Relationship
One common misconception about embezzlement is that it can only occur within an employer-employee relationship. However, under Florida law, embezzlement can happen in various contexts. It is essential to understand that any situation where an individual has been entrusted with handling funds or assets and misuses them for personal gain can be considered embezzlement.
An Overview of the Penalties for Embezzlement in Florida
The penalties for embezzlement in Florida are serious. What exactly they will be in any given case will depend on a variety of facts—most notably, the value of the property involved. For example, if the embezzled property is valued at less than $300, the crime is considered petit theft and is usually classified as a misdemeanor. However, even that offense can still carry up to one year in jail.
As the value of the stolen property increases, so do the penalties. If the property is valued at $20,000 or more but less than $100,000, it is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Beyond that, those convicted of embezzlement may face fines, restitution, and other consequences such as loss of professional licenses.
You Have the Right to Raise a Zealous Defense
White collar crime cases are complicated. Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Indeed, Anyone accused of embezzlement in Florida has the fundamental right to a vigorous defense. There are various defense strategies that can be employed depending on the specifics of the case, including:
- Lack of intent;
- Insufficient evidence; or
- The assertion that the accused believed in good faith that they had a right to the property.
You do not have to take on prosecutors alone. An experienced Orlando, FL white collar criminal defense lawyer who has expertise in embezzlement cases can help analyze the evidence, advise on the best defense strategy, and take action to protect your rights and your future.
Set Up a Confidential Consultation With a Top Orlando Embezzlement Defense Lawyer
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando white collar criminal defense lawyer has the professional expertise to handle embezzlement charges. If you or your loved one is facing a criminal charge for allegations of embezzlement, we are here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us at our Orlando law office today to set up a fully private, no commitment initial legal consultation.