Embezzlement Lawyer in Birmingham, AL

If you’re ready to hire a criminal law attorney, there are many ways of getting in touch:

Embezzlement in Alabama

Embezzlement is the intentional taking of property placed into the perpetrator’s care. This white collar crime often occurs in the course of employment, when an employee begins stealing from a company or organization.

If you have been accused of embezzlement, you are facing very serious penalties, including fines, restitution, community service, and time in jail or prison. Speak to an embezzlement lawyer about your case to protect your rights.

Contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers today at (205) 981-2450 for a free consultation.

Types of Embezzlement

Embezzlement is similar to theft. A person commits theft if they intentionally obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. Embezzlement occurs when a person is entrusted with property and steals or converts the property for their own use. This differs from theft because a person who is charged with theft was never granted permission to possess the property.

Embezzlement at Work

Embezzlement often occurs when an employee is entrusted to handle an employer’s property or funds as part of their work duties and the employee converts the funds from work for their own personal use. In many cases, the embezzlement is not discovered until the employee has already managed to steal thousands of dollars in corporate funds.

Many embezzlers hide their actions by diverting money into bogus accounts or using funds from one division of a company or an organization to replace stolen funds from another division.

Stealing from work is typically charged a felony, and the amount of prison or jail time for stealing money from an employer will depend on the amount of money in question or value of the property that was embezzled. A person who is convicted of stealing from their employer will usually be ordered to pay back the money or value of any property that was stolen in addition to other penalties.

Embezzlement from an Estate

A person who is entrusted to handle property such as money or property in an estate is known as a “fiduciary.” For example, an executor or administrator of an estate is a fiduciary. Corporations may also be considered fiduciaries if they are in charge of taking care of property or funds that belong to another company or an individual.

Using money obtained as an executor or administrator of an estate for personal use is considered a crime, punishable by at least 12 months in the state penitentiary, jail, or hard labor and removal as the administrator or executor.

Embezzlement of a Motor Vehicle

Embezzlement of a motor vehicle is a Class C felony under Alabama embezzlement law and is punishable by up to 10 years and no less than one year in state prison and up to a $5,000 fine. If the vehicle was not recovered or was damaged while in the care of the defendant, restitution may be ordered as part of the sentence to compensate for any losses incurred by an owner, insurance company, or business. Stealing a motor vehicle is first-degree theft, a Class B felony.

Statute of Limitations for Embezzlement

A prosecution for embezzlement must begin within five years. The five-year period does not start until the owner of the property, organization, or business discovers the embezzlement occurred. Many companies discover embezzlement during routine accounting audits. Another common way employers discover embezzlement is through whistleblowing by other employees of the company.

Embezzlement Defenses

If you have been falsely accused of embezzlement, keep in mind that an embezzlement lawyer can often get embezzlement charges dropped or reduced. You have a right to dispute the state’s case at a jury trial, and the state must prove each and every element of the crime in order for you to be found guilty.

Many cases are resolved through plea agreements. Never accept a plea agreement without discussing your case with an attorney since pleading guilty is the same as being found guilty, and you can potentially receive the same sentence as you could have if you had been proven guilty at trial.

Following are some possible defenses to embezzlement charges:

  • Lack of Evidence – The prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is insufficient evidence to prove the case, it may be possible to get your embezzlement charges dropped.
  • Lack of Capacity – If you lacked the capacity to commit embezzlement because of a mental disease or defect, you may be found not guilty. This is also known as an insanity defense. The mental disease or defect must be so severe that you were unable to understand right from wrong or to comprehend the nature of your crime.
  • Duress – If you committed embezzlement but were pressured to do so because you were coerced or threatened, you may be able to present a defense of duress. For example, if you were threatened with the loss of your job if you did not help your boss conceal misuse or theft of company funds, you may be found not guilty based on a defense of duress.
  • Entrapment – If you were induced to commit a crime by a government agent or official that you would have otherwise been unlikely to commit, you may be able to allege entrapment as a defense.
  • Mistake or Lack of Intent – To commit embezzlement, you must have the intent to convert or exercise unauthorized control over property that was not rightfully yours. If you reasonably believed that you had a right to take the property or your actions were the result of an honest mistake such as accounting error, you may be found not guilty of embezzlement.

These are just some of the possible defenses to entrapment. Every case is different, and your defense will depend on the specific facts of your case. If you were granted permission by the owner of property to permanently take the property, revocation of permission later is not enough to make you guilty of embezzlement. For example, if you were wrongfully accused of embezzlement due to a business dispute, an attorney may be able to attack the credibility of your accuser to help you beat your case.

Many cases of embezzlement involve addictions such as a gambling problem. Many people who have a gambling addiction who are accused of embezzlement only intended to “borrow” corporate funds with the intention of replacing them later.

If you committed embezzlement but did so because you were addicted to gambling, drugs, or alcohol, evidence of rehabilitation may be able to help you get charges reduced and keep you out of jail. While addiction is not a defense, evidence that you have dealt with the problem that led you to commit a crime can be a mitigating factor during sentencing.

Talk to an Alabama Embezzlement Lawyer

If you have been charged with felony embezzlement, you are facing serious penalties. Just because you have been charged with embezzlement doesn’t mean that you will go to prison. An embezzlement attorney at Alabama Criminal Lawyers may be able to help you get your charges reduced or dismissed.

We have experience handling many types of criminal cases and can advise you regarding potential outcomes and how we can help defend your case after reviewing the evidence against you.

Contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers today at (205) 981-2450 for a free consultation.