Definition, Charges, Penalties, Defense
In Colorado, there are various laws that dictate penalties against the white collar crime of embezzlement. Embezzlement is a specific type of white collar crime that involves theft, specifically through means of an individual who is in a trusting position. This individual who has been trusted to access assets for another party, steals these assets for themselves over time. An example of this could be a financial officer in charge of many customer’s accounts at a large corporation, and over the years they take money that is not rightfully their own and funnel it into offshore accounts. In Colorado, the taking of private property is charged as theft and treated very strictly under the Colorado Revised Statutes.
Embezzlement: A White Collar Crime
White collar crimes are always taken seriously because they are never victimless crimes. Through fraud and deceit, those who devise these plans wipe out entire life savings, cost investors billions, and use their sophisticated knowledge to deceive those who trust them with assets. The FBI has been involved in white collar crimes for years, working closely with various agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service, and more, to put a stop to these crimes and help prevent them at all costs.
There are many types of embezzlement that take place every day:
- Siphoning: Those on the front lines in stores pocket money from registers and change what the computer shows
- Check Kiting: Deposits and withdrawals between several banks are made, with checks growing gradually in value
- Lapping: Using bank deposits and changing the allocation of funds to hide the fact that money is being taken for personal use
- Payroll: Using a company’s payroll to take money
- Kickbacks: Getting a vendor to buy a certain product over time and increasing the cost to make extra money for personal gain
- Overtime: Falsifying overtime records to make extra money
Factors Present in Embezzlement Crimes
To be successfully charged or convicted of embezzlement, there are some factors that must be present. Because embezzlement is the manipulation of records to hide funds, it is very important that the prosecutor in your case be able to show that the crime took place at all. If they cannot show this because there are discrepancies, then you cannot be charged with the crime. All crimes of embezzlement are different down to the very small details, whether the embezzler is taking large amounts of money all at once, or small amounts over a period of years. Some of these crimes take place in very creative ways. Here are the factors that must be proven in your case:
- There was a relationship between you and another party
- You acquired money or property through this relationship
- You took ownership of the property or transferred it to another party for safe-keeping illegally
- You intentionally committed these acts
Penalties for Embezzlement
If you have been charged with an embezzlement crime, you may wonder what penalties you could be facing. You should know that these crimes usually result in a fine, prison time, or both, depending on the circumstances of the case – from the value of the money or property, and what type of property it was. You may also be required to pay restitution to your victim, which means repaying monetary value or property to those you stole from.
In Colorado, the type of charge you will receive is based upon the amount of money that you stole through embezzlement. Here are the applicable penalties:
- Less Than $50: Class 1 Petty Offense
- $50 or More, but Less Than $300: Class 3 Misdemeanor
- $300 or More, but Less Than $750: Class 2 Misdemeanor
- $750 or More, but Less Than $2,000: Class 1 Misdemeanor
- $2,000 or More, but Less Than $5,000: Class 6 Felony
- $5,000 or More, but Less Than $20,000: Class 5 Felony
- $20,000 or More, but Less Than $100,000: Class 4 Felony
- $100,000 or More, but Less Than $1 Million: Class 3 Felony
- $1 Million or More: Class 2 Felony
From here, you can determine the amount of prison lengths and fines you could pay. For example, for a Class 1 Petty Offense, you may only see up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. However, for a Class 5 Felony, you could see up to 3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines, as well as restitution. Of course, if you have received a felony charge, you should expect enhanced penalties compared to the decreased penalties you may receive for a misdemeanor.
Also, if you have committed a crime of embezzlement against a specially protected class of victims, such as the elderly or disabled adults, you may also see aggravating factors enhancing the penalties in your case. The state of Colorado could impose harsher penalties as a result of these actions when vulnerable adults are included in the charges.
Raising a Defense to Your Embezzlement Charges
When you believe you have an honest defense to use in your case, this is where we come in to help you get the best results after being charged with a crime. Ignorance of the law is never a defense under Colorado laws; however, there are many defenses that could still help you get results in your case. The following are common defenses to use in embezzlement cases:
Insufficient Evidence: If there is insufficient evidence in your case, then the prosecution may not be able to make a case against you. You may be surprised to find that close to 40% of embezzlement cases are dropped because of insufficient evidence so, if you believe that you can honestly raise this defense, it is a good idea.
Duress: If you truly believed that you were in danger at the time of the crime and felt as if you had to commit the crime, you could raise this defense. This would apply in a case where a boss told you that if you did not embezzle, you would lose your career or be blackmailed.
Entrapment: If the government set up bait to get you to commit embezzlement, you could use this defense; however, be careful, as the prosecution will typically contend that you would have committed the crime regardless of entrapment.
No Intent: Perhaps you had no intentions of committing the crime because you believed you were honestly in charge of the money that was embezzled.
Consulting an Attorney Today
If you were charged with embezzlement, you could be facing serious penalties such as fines that will be difficult to repay, restitution owed to victims, and prison time. These penalties could have an adverse effect on your life, which is why it is a good idea to have a defense attorney on your side who understands the ins and outs of these cases. In Colorado, we can help if you have been charged with an embezzlement crime. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation immediately.
Call us at 303-447-1400 or contact us online to setup a time to come in and talk with our defense lawyers about your embezzlement charges.