Perhaps you suspected something was awry because the atmosphere in your office or department has been tense lately. On the other hand, it may have come as a shock to you when your supervisor or manager hinted that there was an investigation underway because of missing funds.
You may not have been the only one in the room with a sinking feeling, but because your hands are on the financial books, you are likely at the center of the investigation. Even if authorities have not yet charged you with embezzlement, you are certainly feeling the heat.
The elements of fraud
Embezzlement is more complicated than stealing. In some situations, employees use elaborate methods to cover the theft, including falsifying payroll records or failing to record deposits. If you are under investigation for embezzling funds, you face charges of fraud that include the following elements:
- Someone else has entrusted you with the responsibility to protect or manage the money.
- That relationship of trust allowed you access to the missing funds.
- Someone believes you took or transferred the money to your own possession or to someone else.
- Your actions were intentional.
If investigators conclude that you are responsible for the fraud, you may face criminal charges. Charges of embezzlement are serious and, depending on the details of the allegations, may be tried by the state of Illinois or in federal court. A conviction may result in harsh penalties, including the potential for prison. However, even without incarceration, your reputation will suffer, and you will likely struggle the rest of your life to find work to support yourself. Additionally, your employer may choose to file a claim of civil fraud against you.
Defending against the charges
Before the investigation is complete and authorities hand down an indictment, there may be actions you can take. With legal assistance, you may be able to negotiate to avoid charges or to have the charges reduced to avoid the prospect of incarceration. In some cases, restitution can resolve the situation.
The uncertainty of what the future holds in the face of accusations of embezzlement have undoubtedly caused you much anxiety. Fortunately, you have the option to enlist the aid of a strong defense attorney whose experience advocating for those accused of fraud and related offenses can be used to your advantage.