Few things are scarier than facing serious criminal charges. In the United States, embezzlement is usually a serious charge. Fortunately, you may not need to plead guilty to criminal conduct. By thinking about some common defenses to embezzlement, you may better position yourself to assert your legal rights.
Whether you face state or federal charges, defending yourself is critical. While an experienced attorney can help you tailor your defense for maximum effect, you should understand how embezzlement defendants typically respond to allegations. There are five possible defenses.
1. You did not take the money
Perhaps the clearest defense to an embezzlement charge is to show that you simply did not take the money. If you choose to use this defense, you likely need to gather financial records that prove your innocence.
2. You took the money for legitimate reasons
If your job description required you to spend money on the company’s behalf, you may have used funds for legitimate reasons. That is, you may have taken money to spend on company expenses. If there is a legally valid reason for your conduct, you may be able to defend an embezzlement charge successfully.
3. You did not intend to commit a crime
Jurisprudence in the United States recognizes the concept of intent. To be guilty of a crime, you must know you were committing one and decided to do so. As such, if you thought company funds belonged to you, you may be able to avoid an embezzlement conviction.
4. You committed the crime under duress
Generally, there is no legal culpability for crimes committed under duress. That is, if you can prove that someone threatened harm to you or your family if you did not misappropriate company funds, you may be able to secure an acquittal. This line of defense, though, is typically narrow.
5. The government cannot prove its case
As you know, in the United States, you are innocent until a judge or jury convicts you of a crime or you plead guilty. There is nothing wrong with forcing government prosecutors to prove their case. In fact, it is often an effective way to defend yourself against criminal charges, especially if there is insufficient evidence to prove your guilt.
While this list of common defenses to an embezzlement charge is not exhaustive, it gives you an idea of how to defend yourself. By exploring all your legal options, you can work to protect both yourself and your freedom.