Embezzlement, the crime of theft or misappropriation of funds entrusted to an employee belonging to their employer, happens at a much higher rate than most people realize. In fact, according to The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Crime Statistics, nearly 75 percent of all employees steal from their employers at least once.

Sometimes, however, taking of funds can be an honest mistake. If you are being accused of embezzlement it is highly advised you seek an experienced attorney to defend you.

Lawyer for Embezzlement Defense in West Palm Beach, FL

If you are under investigation or have been charged with the crime of embezzlement, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. defends clients arrested for embezzlement and theft crimes in Royal Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, Lake Worth, and many other surrounding areas of Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County.

Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense attorneys in West Palm Beach who will do what they can to protect you. You can have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (561) 557-8686 to set up a free, confidential consultation.

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Palm Beach County Embezzlement Information Center

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Florida Embezzlement Law

Embezzlement is not treated as a separate crime under the Florida statutes. Instead, embezzlement falls under Florida’s general theft statute. The elements of theft are:

  • A person knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
    • Deprive the other person of the property; or
    • Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to it.

In an embezzlement context, this does not necessarily require a taking of property without consent; it can be enough to show that a person was entrusted with the property and then intentionally spent, used, or took the property without consent. This can commonly include:

  • Pocketing cash from a transaction instead of putting the money in a register;
  • Taking from petty cash;
  • Short changing customers;
  • Unauthorized use of company credit accounts;
  • Unauthorized use of company checks;
  • Creating fake employees or accounts to transfer funds to;
  • Wire transfer fraud;
  • Issuing fake loans.

The misappropriation of trade secrets is also considered embezzlement under the Florida statutes. Trade secrets include scientific, technical, commercial information, or financial information, and any design, process, procedure, list of suppliers, list of customers, or business code. Embezzlement of trade secrets is a third degree felony in Florida.

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Embezzlement Penalties in Florida

In Florida the value of the property taken is the deciding factor in determining the severity of the offense. If property is taken valued at under $300 but more than $100, then the crime is a petit theft first degree misdemeanor and the punishment is up to a year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. Any property taken over $300 is a felony with punishments as follows:

  • $300 - $20,000 – Third Degree Felony – punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • $20,000 - $100,000 – Second Degree Felony – punishable up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • $100,000 or more – First Degree Felony – punishable up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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Embezzlement Resources in Palm Beach County

Florida Theft Statute – Since Florida does not define embezzlement separately from theft, embezzlement falls under the theft statute. This link will show you to the entire portion of the Florida Statute related to theft and related crimes. Besides defining the elements of theft, the law also carves out certain exceptions that will elevate a theft to a higher degree of felony.

FBI Financial Crimes Report – The FBI released a report for white collar crimes in 2011. The link will take you to the full report. The report includes significant cases, statistics, and explanations for various types of embezzlement schemes and corporate fraud.

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Find an Embezzlement Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach, FL

Are you under investigation or have already been arrested for embezzlement in the Palm Beach County? You will want to contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. as soon as possible.

Our West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers represent individuals in communities throughout Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County, including Wellington, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Boca Raton, and several others. Call (561) 557-8686 or submit an online contact form to have our attorneys review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation.

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