If your employer has entrusted you with keeping the books or managing the financial accounts of his or her business, you may have felt honored with the level of trust imparted to you. However, you undoubtedly felt the weight of that trust. Handling the money and maintaining the records means any mistakes fall squarely on your shoulders. It also means eyes are on you if the accounts don’t add up.
Facing allegations of theft or embezzlement can be frightening. You may feel that it is you against everyone else. While it is true that you may have been under investigation for weeks or months for embezzling from your employer, you still have a chance to build a strong defense and protect your rights. This begins by understanding the charges you are up against.
Embezzlement occurs when someone entrusted with the care of an organization’s finances wrongly takes funds for his or her own use. Often this happens in the business world, but embezzlement also occurs in non-profit organizations and even school fundraising events. If your employer or other authorities have accused you of embezzling from company funds, they must prove the following:
- You held a position of trust in the eyes of your employer, for example if your employer hired you to manage the business finances or assigned you to handle payments for the company.
- You acquired money or other property through your position of trust in the business.
- You are the one who took the money or property or transferred it to someone else.
- You performed these actions intentionally with the purpose of taking the money or property for yourself or someone else.
While these may seem simple factors, they are not always easy to prove. For example, authorities may have a difficult time proving your intent or that you used you position to acquire the assets. However, it is wise not to take this for granted. Without a strong defense strategy, you risk the severe penalties that often accompany a conviction, such as fines, restitution and potentially prison. A conviction can also have long-term negative consequences, especially if you try to find work in the future.
You may be able to avoid the worst-case scenario by seeking advice and guidance from a skilled attorney. An attorney with experience in Illinois criminal law can evaluate your case and offer counsel on the most appropriate course of action to take.