Embezzlement

Embezzlement usually involves the theft or misappropriation of money or property from an employer or entity for which the Defendant worked, volunteered, or otherwise had a relationship with. Embezzlement can occur when a cashier pockets money from the cash register, or when a cashier purposely fails to ring up items for family or friends in the checkout line so the items can be stolen. Embezzlement occurs when a secretary or an accountant fails to make the required deposits for a business and keeps the money for him or herself, which can sometimes result in severe and crippling losses.  In Michigan the offense of Embezzlement can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending upon the prior record of the Defendant, the fair market value of the property embezzled, and if the embezzlement involves a nonprofit corporation or charitable organization.

In most cases, to prove Embezzlement charges the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that:

1)   The Defendant had a relationship of trust with an individual or entity because the Defendant was an employee, volunteered, or otherwise had a relationship with the individual or entity;

2)    The Defendant obtained control of money or property because of this relationship;

3)    The Defendant either dishonestly disposed of the money or property, converted the money or property to his or her own use, or took or hid the money or property with the intent to convert it to his or her own use without the consent of the aforementioned individual or entity;

4)    At the time the Defendant did this, he or she intended to defraud or cheat the aforementioned individual or entity of some property;

5)  That the fair market value of the property or amount of money embezzled was either:

a.      $100,000 or more;

b.      $50,000 or more but less than $100,000;

c.      $20,000 or more but less than $50,000;

d.      $1,000 or more but less than $20,000;

e.      $200 or more but less than $1,000;

f.        Some amount less than $200.

The value of the property or money embezzled in separate incidents if part of a scheme or course of conduct within a 12 month period can be added together when deciding whether the Prosecutor has proved the amount required beyond a reasonable doubt. If the scheme or course of conduct is directed against only 1 person, governmental entity, legal entity, mortgagee, lessor, or vendor, no time limit applies to the aggregation of the amounts embezzled.

The punishment for Embezzlement is usually as follows:

a.    Embezzlement of $100,000 or more is a 20 year maximum felony in Michigan. It is also a 20 year felony if the amount was $50,000 or more but less than $100,000 and either the Defendant had a prior Embezzlement conviction or the victim is a nonprofit corporation or charitable organization.

b.    Embezzlement of  $50,000 or more but less than $100,000 is a 15 year maximum felony in Michigan.  It is also a 15 year felony if the amount was $20,000 or more but less than $50,000 and either the Defendant had a prior Embezzlement conviction or the victim is a nonprofit corporation or charitable organization.

c.       Embezzlement of $20,000 or more but less than $50,000 is a 10 year maximum felony in Michigan.  It is also a 10 year felony if the amount was $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 and either the Defendant had a prior Embezzlement conviction or the victim is a nonprofit corporation or charitable organization.

d.     Embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 is a 5 year maximum felony in Michigan.  It is also a 5 year felony if the amount was $200 or more but less than $1,000 and either the Defendant had a prior Embezzlement conviction or the victim is a nonprofit corporation or charitable organization.

e.   Embezzlement of $200 or more but less than $1,000 is a 1 year maximum misdemeanor. It is also a 1 year maximum misdemeanor if the amount was some amount less than $200 and either the Defendant had a prior Embezzlement conviction or the victim is a nonprofit corporation or charitable organization;

f.      Embezzlement of some amount less than $200 is a 93 day maximum misdemeanor.

Other Embezzlement offenses include: Embezzlement by a Public Officer $50 or More (a 10 year maximum felony); Embezzlement by Administrator/Executor/Guardian (a 10 year maximum felony); Embezzlement by Financial Institutions (a 20 year felony); Embezzlement by Warehouses (a 4 year felony).

Restitution is always a part of the Court’s sentence for these types of cases. The Court has the option of ordering treble damages in Embezzlement cases. The Court can also impose consecutive sentencing to any imprisonment imposed for any other criminal offense if the victim was either a nonprofit corporation or charitable organization, a person 60 years of age or older, or a vulnerable adult (mentally disabled, a court ward, etc.).

Embezzlement cases in Michigan, carry the potential of incarceration for even a first time offender becuase Judges often want to sentence harshly someone who betrays the trust of another, especially when a severe financial hardship results.  If such an allegation is made against you it is recommended that you first exercise your right to remain silent and second hire a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest for the following reasons:
1.    You have a better chance of receiving a reasonable bail or bond through effective legal representation;
2.    The lawyer can prepare the case for preliminary examination to work for possible dismissal, lay the groundwork for possible motions, develop testimony to impeach witnesses, and develop defenses for trial.
3.  If you want to fight the case at trial you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to prepare and conduct the trial to give you the best chance of winning.  
4.    If you plan to plead guilty, the Defense lawyer can work to achieve the best result through possible plea bargains, possible Cobbs agreements, persuasive lawyering, proper scoring of the Michigan Sentence Guidelines, successful arguments concerning possible sentencing options such as HYTA - Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, SAI Bootcamp, drug and alcohol treatment.  Every case is different, and whether or not the factors in this paragraph apply depends upon your history, the facts of the allegation, the Prosecutor's office, and the Judge assigned to the case.
 
Sometimes in life you only have 1 opportunity to receive the right result.
 
Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.

 

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