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Embezzlement, a type of financial fraud, is the theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one’s trust or belonging to one’s employer. Embezzlement can manifest in many different forms but most frequently occurs through relatively small takings over a long period of time.

A charge of embezzlement has serious personal and professional consequences. In addition to criminal penalties, a criminal conviction for embezzlement can negatively affect your career as well, often making it extremely difficult to find work. For these reasons, if you are charged with embezzlement, having an experienced Lawrence County embezzlement lawyer by your side through the ordeal could be essential. Contact an experienced defense attorney today to get started on your case.

Defining Embezzlement

According to Alabama state law, embezzlement occurs when a person knowingly and willingly acquires the command of another person’s property without authorization and has the intent to take that property away from the owner. Embezzlement laws work in much the same way as those relating to theft of property.

In Lawrence County, as in the rest of Alabama, there are three degrees of embezzlement: first degree, second degree, and third degree. Embezzlement in the first degree is the most serious of the three, occurring when the amount of money involved exceeds $2,500. If the crime was premeditated by one or more persons, the embezzlement will be a first-degree Class B felony.

Second-degree embezzlement occurs when the value of the property taken is greater than $500 but not exceeding $2,500, and is charged as a Class C felony. If the value of the property is below $500, the resulting charge may be for third-degree embezzlement, a Class A misdemeanor.

Potential Penalties for Embezzlement

As described above, embezzlement in the first degree is a Class B felony in Lawrence County, which can carry stiff penalties with it. A person convicted of a Class B felony can face up to 20 years in prison and may be required to pay a significant fine of up to $30,000.

A conviction for second degree-embezzlement—a Class C felony—may result in a term in prison no greater than 10 years and a fine not to exceed $15,000.

Third-degree embezzlement, the least severe charge of the three, is a Class A misdemeanor. This can result in a maximum sentence of one year and a fine of no more than $6,000.

In addition to criminal penalties, there are also social and professional consequences to a conviction for embezzlement. Even a conviction for third-degree embezzlement can have a considerable impact on a person’s career, often affecting their ability to find gainful employment. This is why it could be essential for someone facing embezzlement charges to seek the services of a seasoned attorney as quickly as possible.

Potential Defense Strategies

As with any criminal charge, the strategies used to mount a defense against charges of embezzlement may depend heavily on the individual circumstances surrounding the charge. Most strategies, however, will focus on demonstrating reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime in question.

For embezzlement, such strategies can include showing that the defendant did not actually possess the money or property in question, or that the defendant was not the only person with the access needed to commit the crime. An experienced embezzlement attorney in Lawrence County could assess the unique circumstances of any embezzlement case and help their client understand the options that may be available for their defense.

Contact a Lawrence County Embezzlement Attorney Today

With any legal defense, time is of the essence.  The sooner you contact a Lawrence County embezzlement lawyer, the faster they could begin building a defense against the charges. If you are charged with embezzlement, call today for a consultation to discuss the details of your case.