Whether you worked for a company for decades or only a short time, you probably earned some respect among your employers and co-workers. Because your boss was busy attending to other issues in the business, he or she entrusted the accounts to you, perhaps based on your resume or simply because of your reputation in the community.
It may have been challenging to handle the financial affairs of the business or organization, especially if you were struggling with your own budget. Your frustration may have increased if the owner of your company showed no interest in your work or spent no time with you reviewing the accounts. Now those accounts don’t add up, and fingers are pointing at you.
What is embezzlement?
If authorities have accused you of embezzling funds from your employer, you could be facing trouble. Simply put, embezzlement is theft, and it often involves employees who handle the accounts. The four elements authorities will investigate in your case include:
- Determining that someone trusted you to maintain the financial records for your employer, and that your employer relied on you to do so
- Proving that you used that relationship to gain access to the money
- Demonstrating that you took the money or transferred it to someone else
- Showing that you did this intentionally for your own benefit
It may be difficult for investigators to prove that you intentionally took the money for your own purposes, and not that you simply misunderstood your role in handling the accounts or the liberties granted to your position in the company.
Embezzlement is not limited to cash. In some cases, authorities may accuse someone of taking merchandise or gift cards. No matter the assets that are missing, it is common for authorities to level accusations against the person who had the easiest access to the assets.
A solid defense when your future is at stake
Embezzlement charges are serious and life altering. If convicted, you may spend years in prison and struggle to find meaningful employment for the rest of your life. Additionally, if the charges against you involve federal crimes, those penalties may be even more severe. Whether those charges have already been filed or you are in the midst of an investigation, having legal assistance as early as possible may improve the chances of building a strong defense.
With white-collar crimes such as embezzlement, it is often possible to avoid criminal charges altogether. Under certain circumstances, the person alleging the theft may be open to negotiating for restitution or reduced charges. However, you may benefit from leaving such negotiations to an Illinois attorney with experience defending those accused of white-collar crimes.