The Statistics Involving Embezzlement, Penalties, and Defenses in Florida
Employee theft has been a problem across the globe since the beginning of time. But the full scope of the issue has gained increasing awareness and stricter enforcement in the United States and the state of Florida over the past few decades.
The Florida embezzlement defense attorneys at Musca Law commit themselves to fighting hard on behalf of those who are subject to an accusation of this extremely serious offense. Contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about how their team of legal professionals can fight hard for your rights and mount the strongest defense strategy possible on your behalf.
According to the National White Collar Crime Center, a congressionally funded non-profit corporation that trains state and local law enforcement agencies to combat emerging economic crimes, theft committed by employees – also referred to as the crime of embezzlement – represents losses of nearly $100 billion on an annual basis. Those who own retail establishments report approximately $18 million in thefts committed by employees. This is over $2 billion more than the costs associated with customer-related thefts, also referred to as shoplifting.
Per a report issued by the United States Chamber of Commerce, it is estimated that approximately 75% of employees steal from their employer at least once, while others continuously steal from the employer on a regular basis.
According to another report, the Marquet Report on Embezzlement, the White Collar Crime Fraud Study of Major Embezzlement Cases in the U.S. in 2013,
- Represents 30 to 50% of all business-related failures;
- Is increasing every year in the United States; and
- Occurs among approximately three out of four employees.
Notwithstanding the fact that theft committed by employees is considered a white collar crime, it does not always involve CEOs and financial officers. It can also be committed, among others, by a retail store employee, a local town clerk, and even a soccer mom.
Theft Committed by Employees in Florida
While many other criminal offenses in Florida have been on the decline, the Florida Department of Law Enforcementindicates that the number of employee theft cases is increasing each year, as noted above. Specifically, there were a total of 1,086 arrests for embezzlement reported in 2018. Of these arrests, 32 were juveniles and 1,054 were adults.
Although Florida maintains statistics of the crime of embezzlement, it falls under the general category of theft, found at Florida Statutes Section 812.014. When theft involves employees, the law indicates that this occurs when an employee unlawfully and willfully attempts to take or actually takes the property of his or her employer with the intention of temporarily or permanently depriving him or her of same for the employee’s own use. Keep in mind that embezzlement can be categorized as either “petit theft” or grand theft, which depends on the amount of property that was taken.
Criminal Penalties for Embezzlement in Florida
- It is a first-degree felony when the property stolen has a value of $100,000 or greater, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, possible probation for 30 years, and a monetary fine of up to $10,000.
- It is a second-degree felony when the property stolen is worth $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000, which is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, possible probation for fifteen years, and a monetary fine of up to $10,000.
- It is a third-degree felony when the property stolen has a value of $750 or greater, but less than $20,00, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, possible probation for five years, and a monetary fine of up to $5,000.
It is worth noting that in many cases involving embezzlement, prosecutors throughout the state of Florida often seek the harshest penalties due to the fact that employees are put into a place of trust, which means that they can ultimately cause the failure of the employer’s business if not caught in time. Many employees suspected of committing embezzlement are accused of absconding large amounts of money and/or highly valuable property due to the fact that as an employee, they have easy access to such money or property.
For these reasons, it is very common for prosecutors to pursue harsh penalties, even for those accused of committing employee theft for the first time. There are several factors that influence whether a reduction of charges is possible or a whether a plea deal can be negotiated, which include:
- The specific prosecutor and the judge presiding over the case;
- If the accused offender has a prior criminal record;
- Aggravating and mitigating factors involved in the case; and
- The specific punishment sought by the victim/employer.
Potential Defenses Used in Florida Embezzlement Cases
There may be a myriad of defenses that apply in embezzlement causes which are specific to the case. These involve:
- The accused did not intend to abscond the property;
- The property was used for purposes that were lawful;
- The accused was acting pursuant to duress, such as when he or she is robbed at gunpoint;
- The accused had the employer’s consent to take the property; and/or
- The value of the property taken was less than what the employee is accused of taking.
Contact the Florida Embezzlement Defense Lawyers at Musca Law Today!
Facing embezzlement charges can be an extremely frightening experience. When you work with a seasoned Florida 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 lawyers 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.