Howard County Embezzlement Lawyer
Allegations involving embezzlement are just one example of the various theft-related offenses in the state’s criminal code. As a result, courts treat many allegations involving embezzlement as simple theft charges. The severity of these charges is linked to the dollar value of the property alleged to have been taken.
However, a special statute applies to defendants when they face accusations of embezzlement from positions carrying fiduciary duty. These fraud allegations carry stiff penalties upon conviction with mandatory jail time.
A Howard County embezzlement lawyer could help you if you are facing any embezzlement-related charge in Howard County. They can work to examine the relationship between yourself and the alleged victim to disprove the idea that there was any misappropriation. They could also help to fight back against allegations of theft that may qualify under the state’s larceny statutes.
The Concept of Embezzlement
Most allegations involving embezzlement are simple larcenies under state law. Md. Code, Criminal Law §7-104, titled “General Theft Provisions”, prohibits the exertion of unauthorized control over the property. Allegations of embezzlement can fit inside this definition.
But what does it mean to embezzle property? A person commits embezzlement when they are permitted to hold another party’s property but use that property in an unauthorized way. Allegations of embezzlement can only follow if a defendant had a legal right to hold the property prior to the illegal allegation.
For example, a landscaping employee may have permission to take a company truck home after a workday. However, that employee does not have permission to use that truck to take a date to a movie. While this is a simple example of misuse of property, it would qualify under the strict language of the statute.
Penalties for embezzlement as a theft offense are tied to the value of the property. Any conviction will create a criminal record, could require the payment of a fine, or could result in a jail term. A Howard County embezzlement lawyer could help clients facing any type of theft charge involving embezzlement.
The Consequences of Embezzlement for Fiduciaries
Some people maintain a special duty towards financial clients. Insurance brokers, financial planners, and even attorneys all handle client funds for specific purposes. As a result, these professionals maintain a legal duty to protect those funds and to use them only in authorized ways. A failure to do so may result in embezzlement charges.
Md. Code, Criminal Law §7-113 states that a fiduciary may not:
- Fraudulently and willingly appropriate money or anything of value placed in their trust, or
- Secrete money or property of a client in an unauthorized way
For example, a financial planner may take in client funds with instruction to place those funds into an annuity. If that planner instead places the funds into their own investment account, this is a clear example of embezzlement.
The statute creates harsh penalties for this behavior. A conviction carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of one year. A maximum penalty may not exceed five years. A Howard County embezzlement lawyer could help fiduciaries accused of embezzlement. A lawyer could take steps to demonstrate the proper use of funds or that any client money was not part of the alleged transactions.
Let a Howard County Embezzlement Attorney Assist You
Allegations of embezzlement may be confusing and frightening. Defendants often wonder how they are charged with a crime when they had permission to hold the property from the owner. Fiduciaries facing embezzlement charges may be even more concerned as a conviction carries a mandatory jail sentence and a likely loss of a professional license.
A Howard County embezzlement lawyer could help you to defeat these charges in court. A prosecutor must prove that not only did a transfer of ownership take place to secure a conviction, but that a defendant did so with the intent to deprive the owner of use of that property.
A Howard County defense attorney could help to gather evidence of proper use, that an owner abandoned the property, or simply that there was no intent to defraud or steal. Contact an attorney today to learn more about defeating an embezzlement charge.