Embezzlement falls under the wider umbrella of theft crimes in Florida. Embezzlement of property valued at $300 or above could constitute a felony depending on the circumstances.
A felony conviction could change your life. If you are facing felony embezzlement charges in Florida for high-value theft, a strong white collar crime defense strategy could help you minimize the penalties you face. Here are three such strategies often used in these cases.
- The circumstances do not qualify as embezzlement
To charge someone with embezzlement in Florida, the prosecution must demonstrate four conditions. Without all of the following conditions, the prosecution might not be able to file a charge:
- You and the plaintiff must have had a fiduciary relationship at the time of the alleged embezzlement.
- You must have acquired the property through this relationship.
- You must have taken the property to deprive its owner.
- You must have acted intentionally.
If these four conditions do not exist, you may face other charges besides felony embezzlement, such as simple theft, or no charges at all. You may have had a legitimate reason for taking the property, for example, other than the intent to deprive its owner.
- Insufficient evidence
It is the prosecutor’s burden to prove that you committed felony embezzlement according to the unique language of Florida law. This requires establishing your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A potential defense is that the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence. Insufficient evidence could present reasonable doubt to your guilt.
- You were under duress
Duress refers to pressure to commit a crime due to a threat of violence, coercion or intimidation. If you had a good faith belief that someone would cause harm to you or a family member if you did not commit the crime, you may be able to use this defense. If you thought your boss might fire you, for example, you may have a successful duress defense.
Note, however, that the Florida courts will not hear the defense of pressure to prevent family hardship in embezzlement cases. The defense strategies that may be available to you will depend on your unique situation.