If you own a Colorado business with partners or work for a company in a capacity that involves financial information or cash, and an error occurs, you can face criminal charges. Embezzlement is among the most misunderstood types of fraud and a conviction could adversely affect the rest of your life.
According to the Corporate Finance Institute, embezzlement can take several forms. It occurs when an employee or another individual in a trusted position takes or uses money for their own purposes. The prosecutor must show that you had the intent to commit a crime for a conviction. Embezzlement cannot occur accidentally.
Types of embezzlement
Although many people think of funds unlawfully taken from a bank account, payroll fraud or check forging, embezzlement encompasses more than those situations. Cash skimming occurs when an employee puts cash in their pocket instead of the register. When embezzlement involves negotiables, it means that a person forged, altered or manipulated financial instruments and diverted funds to a different account. Examples of negotiated instruments include the following:
- Credit card and debit memos
- Customer money orders
- Computerized checks
- Refund authorizations
Credit card fraud involves using someone else’s credit card for unauthorized purchases. This type of embezzlement typically occurs with cashiers. When a person tampers with electronic transactions is becomes computer-based embezzlement.
Defenses for embezzlement
Fortunately, a variety of defenses can help you avoid an embezzlement conviction. Often, a charge results from a misunderstanding. A defense can include demonstrating that you either did not take the money or that you had the money for legitimate reasons. In cases where there is reasonable doubt regarding any key factors of the charges, the prosecution may have insufficient evidence for a conviction.
Embezzlement can involve several people. If you believed harm could come to you or a loved one if you did not participate in the scheme, duress could be your defense. Understanding the factors required for an embezzlement conviction is critical for creating a strong defense and attaining the best possible outcome.