Embezzlement charges are a big deal. Whether you are charged under Colorado or federal law, you could be facing prison time if convicted. And your career as an accountant, executive or other white-collar professional could be over. An embezzlement conviction on your record will likely cost you your professional license and ruin your reputation in the Denver business community.
Of course, just because you are under investigation or have been arrested does not mean you did it. Or you could have one of several potential defenses that could lead to a not guilty verdict or convince the prosecution to drop the charges. These defenses include:
Statute of limitations
Embezzlement is a type of theft. In Colorado, it is prosecuted under the state’s theft statutes, depending on how much the defendant allegedly stole. Each level of theft crime carries a statute of limitations, which is the time limit for authorities to bring charges. For felony theft charges, the defendant must be charged within three years of the alleged crime. Misdemeanor theft has a statute of limitations of just 18 months.
Lack of intent
Embezzlement is an intent crime. The prosecutor must prove that the accused person intentionally took and misused money or other assets belonging to another party. If they cannot prove intent, the verdict should be not guilty. Thus, a taking that was the result of a mistake, or meant to put the property elsewhere for safekeeping, cannot be embezzlement.
Another way that a taking could be unintentional is if it’s done under duress. For example, someone could be forced to “embezzle” money from their employer or a client by someone threatening their life or safety if they don’t comply.
The facts of your case will largely dictate your defense strategy. To find out your options, consulting a defense attorney who defends against white-collar crimes can be invaluable.