Facing allegations of financial crimes can have a devastating impact on numerous aspects of your life, including but not limited to your personal reputation, family relationships and career. If you’ve become subject to a criminal investigation, it’s imperative to know your rights and where to seek support to help you defend those rights, especially if you wind up in custody by Missouri police and formally charged with a crime. There are often several criminal defense strategies available to refute embezzlement charges or other theft accusations.
If you’re facing embezzlement charges, you’re accused of breaching a trust by misusing another person’s funds or property for your own financial gain. Embezzlement often takes place in the corporate world, such as if an employee who has access to company funds siphons some to a family member to use for personal expenses or some other purpose, like making an investment. If you’re arrested for suspected embezzlement, remember that you do not have to answer questions under interrogation if law enforcement has not afforded you an opportunity to seek legal representation.
Misappropriation of funds is another word for embezzlement
Misusing another person’s property or money for personal gain has steep penalties in Missouri. Such penalties often include substantial fines and jail time. The amount of a fine may vary, depending on the value of embezzled funds or property. For example, for a conviction for theft up to $500, a fine will typically not exceed $1,000, and this type of crime is a misdemeanor in Missouri.
If the value of stolen property is more than $500 but does not exceed $25,000, sentencing under conviction may include up to 7 years behind bars because this is a Class C felony.
Defense options that may be viable in an embezzlement case
Perhaps you did use company funds, but it was for legitimate business purposes. This is a common criminal defense strategy that can be used to refute embezzlement charges. Here are several additional defense options that might work in a particular case:
- Denying that you took the funds or property in question
- Lack of evidence
- Accidental embezzlement, such as mistakenly believing the funds were yours to use as you see fit
- Forced to commit a crime under duress
It’s helpful to obtain experienced guidance before entering a plea or determining which type of criminal defense strategy has the greatest chance of producing a positive outcome in a Missouri court. Such guidance is often the key to minimizing the long-term implications (i.e., losing a job, losing a business, getting divorced, etc.) of embezzlement charges.