Georgia Embezzlement Lawyer
Embezzlement occurs when a person who has been entrusted with the management or monitoring of someone else’s assets, intentionally takes that property for their own financial gain. This offense is especially common in corporate settings, where an employee is given access to company accounts, but misuses those funds. Although embezzlement is technically a white collar crime, these kinds of charges should not be taken lightly, as conviction can come with significant jail time and expensive fines. With so much at stake, building a strong defense becomes even more important, so if you were recently accused of embezzlement, it is important to speak with an experienced Georgia embezzlement lawyer who can advise you.
The Elements of an Embezzlement Charge
In Georgia, a person can only be convicted of embezzlement if prosecutors can demonstrate that:
- There was a fiduciary relationship between the owner and the accused, such as a banker, accountant, employee, or legal guardian;
- The accused used that relationship to gain access to certain assets;
- The accused took ownership of the assets or transferred them to a third party; and
- The accused acted intentionally.
While there are a variety of circumstances that can result in the fulfillment of these elements, certain activities tend to be associated with embezzlement more than others, including check kiting, lapping, and computer schemes.
The penalties that a person faces for an embezzlement conviction in Georgia depend on the value of the property that was allegedly misused. If, for instance, the asset in question was worth less than $500, a person will usually be charged with a misdemeanor. Embezzling property that is valued above $500, on the other hand, comes with a prison sentence of between five and ten years. Someone accused of embezzling from a person who is 65 years of age or older can also expect more severe penalties in the event of conviction.
As we mentioned previously, a defendant can only be convicted of embezzlement if the state can provide evidence that a number of different elements have been fulfilled. A charge cannot be supported if these elements can’t be established, so a good defense lawyer should attempt to cast reasonable doubt on those aspects of the case. This could include proving that:
- The accused lawfully obtained the funds or property from a third party;
- The accused had an agreement or another recognized form of legal obligation in regards to how they could use the property; or
- The accused didn’t knowingly convert the funds for his or her personal use in violation of any agreements.
In some cases, a person can avoid conviction if he or she can prove that the statute of limitations for a certain offense has already passed. In Georgia, the deadline for most cases is two years. Some financial crimes, however, come with a four year statute of limitations.
Call Today for Help with Your Embezzlement Charges
If you were accused of embezzlement, you may be facing serious penalties. Please call the experienced Georgia embezzlement lawyers at Hawkins Spizman for help formulating a defense. We can be reached by phone at 770-209-2310 or via online message.