Embezzlement is a serious federal offense, and individuals convicted will look at years in prison. The former Berkeley County School District Chief Financial Officer recently went to court on embezzlement charges. The charges assert he embezzled more than $1 million in school funds over many years. If convicted, he could face up to 300 years in prison and millions of dollars’ worth of fines.
Anyone facing similar charges needs to start building a defense immediately. The right defense will vary depending on the exact circumstances of the case. However, these tend to be the most popular in embezzlement cases.
Many people are familiar with the insanity defense from movies and television shows. However, a better defense may involve incapacity. For example, an attorney could argue that while the embezzlement took place, the defendant suffered from incapacity due to injury or from taking too many medications. He or she was not in the right state of mind during the transactions.
2. Absence of intent
Embezzlement, similarly to other crimes, predicates on the notion the person intended to commit the crime. It may be possible to show the person believed he or she was the rightful owner of the property. Evidence showing a lack of intent to commit a crime can be tough to acquire.
Another defense is that the individual felt forced into embezzling funds from an outside party. A person in a higher position of power may have compelled the person to embezzle and provide the funds. Coercion or threat can be a powerful defense because it shows the person would not have committed the crime had it not been for this outside force.
This is similar to entrapment. Some people may feel they have to embezzle funds or else they will lose their jobs. Some people may even receive a threat that harm will come to them or their family members.