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When Can an Employee Be Charged with Embezzlement?

 Posted on September 28, 2023 in White Collar Crimes

Wisconsin embezzlementBy Attorneys Jason Luczak and Nicole Masnica

Embezzlement is a serious white collar crime that involves the misappropriation or theft of funds entrusted to someone's care. This offense can refer to situations where an employee is accused of stealing money or assets from their employer. In Wisconsin, embezzlement accusations can lead to charges of theft or other criminal offenses. Those who have been accused of embezzlement can work with an attorney to determine their best options for defense.

Criminal Charges for Employee Embezzlement

When an employee is accused of embezzlement, several types of criminal charges may be brought against them. The specific charges that may apply will depend on the circumstances of the alleged offense and the amount of money or the value of property that was allegedly stolen or misappropriated. Although Wisconsin does not explicitly name embezzlement as a crime in its statutes, some charges that may be related to embezzlement include:

  • Theft by employee: Employees may be accused of physically stealing cash, merchandise, or equipment from their employers. In these cases, theft charges will typically apply, and the specific penalties will be based on the value of the assets that a person is accused of stealing.

  • Misappropriation of funds: Theft charges may also apply if an employee is accused of using company funds for personal gain. For example, an employee may claim that payments are being made to a vendor or contractor while the employee is actually transferring these funds into a personal account.

  • Fraudulent writings: If an employee creates false documents or alters existing ones with the intent to deceive others and obtain financial benefits, they may be charged with this offense. For example, an employee may commit forgery by signing their employer’s name on a check and making fraudulent payments to themselves or others.

  • Theft by false representation: An employee may be charged with fraud if they obtain money, property, or services through deception. For example, a person may claim that they are acting on behalf of their employer when they actually plan to close a separate business deal to benefit themself.

Charges involving embezzlement can carry different penalties depending on the severity of the offense and the amount of money involved. In cases where embezzlement is charged as a theft of less than $2,500, a person may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Theft of more than $2,500 will lead to felony charges, which can range from a Class I felony to a Class F felony for theft of over $100,000. If a person is accused of fraudulent writings or forgery, they may be charged with a Class H felony.

Defense Options in Employee Embezzlement Cases

In cases where an employee has been accused of embezzlement, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help build a strong defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of their case. Some defense options may include:

  • Demonstrating lack of intent: It may be possible to show that an employee did not intend to commit embezzlement. They may be able to show that financial discrepancies were unintentional or were caused by accounting errors rather than theft.

  • Mistaken Identity: In some cases, a person may be able to provide evidence suggesting that another person committed the offense in question, or they may raise doubt about who had access to certain funds or assets.

  • Duress/coercion: An employee may be able to show that they were forced or coerced into committing embezzlement through threats or pressure from someone else.

  • Insufficient evidence: It may be possible to argue that the evidence in a case does not conclusively demonstrate that the alleged crime occurred.

Contact Our Experienced Milwaukee, WI, Embezzlement Defense Lawyers

If you have been charged with theft, fraud, or related charges in Wisconsin, it is essential to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer by your side. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our Milwaukee white collar crime attorneys understand the complex factors that can affect embezzlement cases, and we can provide you with the representation you need to defend against a conviction. Please contact us at 414-271-1440 to set up a consultation and learn more about how we can help with your case.

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