Embezzlement Lawyer in St. Louis, MO. While some financial crimes may not receive the same attention or are not considered perhaps as serious as some violent crimes, an embezzlement conviction carries heavy penalties, both at the state and federal level. Even the accusation or an investigation can damage your personal and professional reputation. Don’t let this happen. You need to speak with a St. Louis criminal defense attorney immediately.
Call the Combs Law Group right away at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online. Our embezzlement attorney can conduct a free, no-obligation, and confidential case review regarding the specifics of your case.
How Exactly is Embezzlement Defined in St. Louis?
Embezzlement is a type of theft in which someone steals or knowingly misappropriates funds, property, or resources from an employer, business partner, organization, or trust for their own personal use or gain. Under Missouri Revised Statutes § 570.030, the state recognizes embezzlement offenses under its theft laws or under the offense of stealing.
Federally, embezzlement is defined by both 18 U.S. Code § 31 and the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1895 landmark case Moore v. United States. Here, embezzlement occurs when a person is legally entrusted with property by the rightful owner. But at some point thereafter, the person fraudulently takes the property in question with the intent to deprive the rightful owner. In this context, there is a key difference between embezzlement and other theft crimes. In cases of embezzlement, the rightful owner turns over or consents to a person taking the property. Then the person illegally deprives the rightful owner of use. In cases of larceny or theft, the original taking occurs without the rightful owner’s consent.
What Are Some Examples of Embezzlement in MO?
If you have been accused of embezzlement, you need a St. Louis criminal defense attorney fighting for you today. Call Combs Law Group as soon as possible at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online. Some common scenarios of embezzlement include:
- An employee “borrowing” money from the cash register
- Overcharging a customer and keeping the extra money
- Exaggerating an expense account
- Manipulating or changing accounts or records to cover where theft has occurred – commonly referred to as “cooking the books”
- Falsifying employee time records
- Using a dependant or relative’s Social Security or pension for personal use
- Taking money out of a charity or organization, such as a local Little League
If you are convicted of embezzlement in St. Louis or elsewhere throughout Missouri, the possible penalties and sentencing parameters are:
- If the value of the funds is $500 or less:
Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or fines up to $1,000
- If the value of the funds is more than $500, less than $25,000:
Class C felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and/or fines up to $5,000
- If the value of the funds is $25,000 or more:
Class B felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or fines up to $25,000
How is Embezzlement Proven in Court in St. Louis?
The elements needed to prove the crime of embezzlement at the state level generally need these four factors:
- There must be a fiduciary relationship between you and the other party. That is, there must be a reliance by one party on the other.
- You must have acquired the property through that relationship, rather than in some other manner. As an example, if you’re an investment broker and you steal a client’s bicycle, that’s not embezzlement.
- Your actions must have been intentional, and not the result of an error in accounting.
- You must have taken ownership of the property (at least temporarily), transferred the property to someone else, or destroyed or hidden the property.
Embezzlement can also include the use of funds or property beyond the scope of authorized use. For example, a trust administrator might illegally “borrow” funds from the trust to pay a personal debt. Even if they later repay the trust in full, they could still be charged with embezzlement. Discarding or destroying property can also be charged as embezzlement, such as the case of the Providence, Rhode Island police officer who was convicted of embezzlement after ditching a lawfully confiscated bike.
How Does Federal Law Address Embezzlement of Government Property?
Embezzlement can also take place at all levels of government, from local school boards to massive government agencies. The rollout of COVID-19 relief funds in 2020 provided many opportunities for embezzlement. Because they are federally regulated, banks and financial institutions fall under federal embezzlement laws.
The federal crime of embezzlement of government property is established in 18 U.S. Code § 641.
Whether you are a government employee charged with embezzlement or if you got caught up in a bad scenario with a bank or other federally-funded entity, you need a St. Louis criminal defense attorney familiar with knowledge of the intricacies of federal laws. We understand that good people get caught in bad situations. We’re here to help. Call the Combs Law Group federal embezzlement attorneys in St. Louis today at (314) 900-HELP or reach out to us online.
Typically, the following legal elements are required to prove this type of embezzlement:
- There is a trust or fiduciary relationship between you and the rightful property owner
- The U.S. government owns the property or has an interest in the property
- You took possession of the property in the course of your employment
- You fraudulently converted or appropriated the property for your own use
- You intended to deprive the rightful owner of use of the property
Embezzlement From Government-Funded Organizations
The crime of embezzlement from U.S. government-funded organizations is detailed in 18 U.S. Code § 666. To qualify as a violation of Section 666, you must embezzle property valued over $5,000 from an organization that received at least $10,000 in federal assistance within the past year.
Regardless of the violation, federal embezzlement is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 if convicted of embezzling property with a value of more than $1,000. If you are convicted of embezzling property with a value of less than $1,000, the penalties can include a fine up to $100,000 and one year in prison. These federal cases can be long, complicated, and involve sophisticated accounting, banking, and auditing principles. You need someone who knows the federal system and can review all of the evidence and specifics of your case. Call a federal embezzlement defense attorney at Combs Law Group in St. Louis today at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online.
Reach Out to a Trusted St. Louis Embezzlement Lawyer Today | Combs Law Group
Both state and federal agencies and prosecutors take significant measures to investigate and prosecute embezzlement. If you believe that you are under investigation but have not yet been arrested or formally charged, you can benefit greatly by reaching out to a skilled and knowledgeable St. Louis embezzlement lawyer at Combs Law Group today. The earlier your criminal defense attorney can begin their own investigation and strategy, the better your chances of possibly avoiding charges all together.
If you have been accused of embezzlement, either at the state or federal level, you could be facing serious penalties. You need a strong and trusted advocate by your side. Call a Combs Law Group St. Louis embezzlement lawyer today at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online.