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Defending Against Embezzlement Allegations


Have you been accused of embezzlement? This is a serious form of white collar crime that can be charged at the state or federal level, depending upon the circumstances of the offense and the resulting investigation. If you have been arrested for embezzlement or you are currently facing charges, you should seek advice from a Dallas white collar defense lawyer as soon as possible. Although you might be thinking that embezzlement charges are less serious than other types of criminal charges since embezzlement is a white collar offense, it is critical to know that the federal government takes white collar crimes extremely seriously, and penalties are severe. Indeed, in many cases, the penalties for white collar offenses upon conviction are more severe than those for violent crimes.

What is Embezzlement?

How is embezzlement defined under federal law? The U.S. Supreme Court provided one of the first definitions of embezzlement in Moore v. United States (1895), which was the following:

“Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted, or into whose hands it has lawfully come. It differs from larceny in that the original taking was lawful, or with the consent of the owner, while in larceny the felonious intent must have existed at the time of the taking.”

What are the Elements of an Embezzlement Charge?

A person can face federal charges for embezzlement under 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(A). Under that federal statute, a prosecutor must show the following elements of the offense in order to get a conviction, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):

  1.  “There was a trust or fiduciary relationship between the defendant and the private organization or State or local government agency”;
  2.  “The property came into the possession or care of the defendant by virtue of his/her employment”;
  3. “The defendant’s dealings with the property constituted a fraudulent conversion or appropriation of it to his/her own use”; and
  4. “The defendant acted with the intent to deprive the owner of the use of this property.”

To be clear, in order to get a conviction for embezzlement, similar to many other types of white collar crimes that can be charged under federal law, the prosecutor must be able to prove intent.

Common Defenses Against Embezzlement

While your defense strategy should ultimately be tailored to the specific facts of your case, the following are some potential defenses to use against embezzlement charges:

  • You did not have any intention of depriving the owner of the property;

  • Your actions were undertaken with the consent of the owner of the property;

  • You were under duress, or being threatened, at the time you took the property; or

  • You have been falsely accused of the offense, and you have an alibi.

Contact Our Dallas White Collar Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

Are you facing charges for embezzlement or another type of financial crime? It is essential to seek advice from an experienced Dallas white collar criminal defense attorney about your case. Our firm can evaluate your case and can speak with you about potential defense strategies today. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC for more information.