People worry all the time about getting robbed, assaulted, or defrauded by strangers, but in a large portion of criminal cases, the defendant and the accuser know each other. This is as true in financial crime cases as it is in those involving violent crime. A dispute between family members, neighbors, or business partners can lead to one of them filing a lawsuit against the other in civil court, but in some cases, it can also lead to one of them accusing another of a crime. Law enforcement investigates the accusations, and if it finds them credible enough, the state or the federal government may file criminal charges. Therefore, it sometimes happens that a business owner accuses an employee or business partner of fraud, embezzlement, or another white-collar offense.
If you are facing criminal charges arising from a dispute over money in your professional or personal life, contact a Texas white-collar crime lawyer.
What Is a Fiduciary?
A fiduciary is someone who has formally accepted the right to handle another person’s money or property and has the responsibility to act in the financial interest of the owner of the money or property. For example, a bank is a fiduciary. When you deposit money in a bank, the bank cannot simply spend your money however it chooses; it cannot remove any money from your account except in accordance with transactions that you authorize. Likewise, the trustee of a trust is a fiduciary; the trustee must follow the grantor’s instruction regarding the disbursement of the money. Employees who have keys to the cash register or corporate expense accounts are also fiduciaries who must act in the interest of the employer.
Penalties for Fiduciary Fraud
If you misuse money in the context of a fiduciary relationship, this is a breach of fiduciary duty. Most cases involving breaches of fiduciary duty result in civil lawsuits, in which case the business owner or the grantor of the trust attempts to get the fiduciary to repay the money that the plaintiff lost because of the fiduciary’s misconduct.
Texas law does not define a crime known as fiduciary fraud, but fiduciaries can be charged with financial crimes. If your employer accuses you of transferring money from company accounts to your own accounts without your employer’s consent, you can be charged with embezzlement. If you attempt to conceal the origin of the money once it enters your possession, you can be charged with money laundering. If you attempt to deceive someone to whom you have a fiduciary duty about the transactions you are making, you could be charged with fraud. The penalties for financial crimes vary according to the circumstances of the crime and the amount of financial losses.
Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, About Financial Crime Cases
You should hire a Dallas criminal defense lawyer if you are being accused of defrauding or stealing from someone to whom you have a fiduciary duty. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, to discuss your case.