A Guide to Embezzlement Charges in Florida

November 28, 2019

An individual who uses their position to steal property (including money) from an employer or other parties can face embezzlement charges. Florida prosecutes this offense to the fullest extent of the law. If convicted of embezzlement, you could face serious consequences that could affect your life for years to come, which include, without limitation, jail time, monetary fines, trouble finding gainful employment and/or housing, and more.

Embezzlement is considered a “white-collar crime,” the claims of which are typically brought forth in federal court. Embezzlement, under certain circumstances, can also be tried in a state court. Under Florida law, embezzlement falls under the definition of theft. This means that if a person embezzles money or property, he or she will be charged with theft.

In order to prove that a person committed the crime of embezzlement in state court, the prosecutor must establish that the accused took another person’s money or property on a temporary or permanent basis without permission. In essence, the state must provide that the defendant took money or property without the owner’s consent. 

If you are convicted of embezzlement, the consequences are extremely harsh. An offender could face jail time, monetary fines, probation, difficulty finding housing, and trouble finding gainful employment, to name a few. If you were arrested for embezzlement in Florida, it is critical that you contact a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who can fight for your legal rights and interests, as well as develop the strongest defense possible on your behalf. 

Embezzlement Under Florida Law

A person can be charged with embezzlement when they use their position of trust to abscond money or property from a victim. Oftentimes, these cases occur at the workplace where a contractor or employee is alleged to have taken property from a business partner or employer. Embezzlement can occur in other places as well. It is important to understand that Florida does not specifically have a statute for embezzlement. As noted above, the offense is typically brought forth as a general property theft crime pursuant to Florida Statute Section 812.014.

Embezzlement as a Crime Against Property 

A significant amount of people are shocked to learn that embezzlement is brought forth pursuant to Florida’s theft laws. This means that the punishment an offender faces depends upon the value of the property that was taken. However, there are certain differences between embezzlement and theft cases. For example, under a theft charge, the prosecution must establish that the property was obtained without permission. Conversely, in embezzlement cases, the state does not need to prove that the property was taken without consent, as entrustment of property in these types of matters is typically voluntary. Notwithstanding the difference between the two crimes, prosecutors must still prove that the accused took, spent, or used the property without the owner’s permission.

The Difference Between Petit Theft and Grand Theft in Florida

Embezzlement can be charged as a grand theft, which is a felony, or petit theft, which is a misdemeanor. The type of charge for embezzlement depends upon the value of the property taken. If a person has a criminal record for theft, he or she may face harsher consequences under Florida law.

Consequences of Embezzling Property in Florida

If an accused is found guilty of embezzling property in Florida, he or she will likely face extremely harsh consequences, all of which, as stated above, depend upon the value of the property taken. These penalties include:

  • First-Degree Felony: When the property taken is worth $100,000 or more, a person faces a punishment of up to 30 years in jail, a monetary penalty of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Second-Degree Felony: When the property taken is worth $20,000 or above, but less than $100,000, a person faces a punishment of up to fifteen years in prison, a monetary penalty of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Third-Degree Felony: When the property taken is worth $100 or more, but less than $300, a person faces a punishment of up to five years in prison, a monetary penalty of up to $5,000, or both.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor: When the property taken is worth $300 or more, but less than $20,000, a person faces a punishment of up to 60 days in jail, a monetary penalty of up to $500, or both.
  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor: When the property taken is worth less than $100, a person faces a punishment of up to 60 days in jail, a monetary penalty of up to $500, or both.

A person who is found guilty of embezzlement can also face a suspension of his or her driver’s license for up to one year.

Hire an Attorney Immediately if You have been Charged with Embezzlement

If you are facing embezzlement-related charges, it is critical that you speak with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As noted above, the consequences and penalties associated with property theft charges are harsh and are all governed by Florida law. Only a seasoned criminal defense attorney can advise you of your legal rights and options, as well as help you to develop the strongest defense possible. If you are convicted of embezzlement, an attorney can assist you in seeking alternatives to criminal punishment, such as paying restitution to the victim as well as court costs and fees, to name a few.

Contact Musca Law Today. Your Life and Your Liberty Depend Upon It!

Facing embezzlement charges can be frightening. When you work a seasoned Florida embezzlement defense attorney at Musca Law, he or she will help you to fight against the allegations to the fullest extent of the law. Our firm’s attorneys are among The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers, included in the 2012 Florida Super Lawyers® for criminal defense, and boast 10.0 Superb Avvo ratings. Our attorneys are skilled, experienced, tenacious, and relentless when it comes to defending our clients. To learn more about how Musca Law can make a difference for you, call (888) 484-5057 today.