Indianapolis Embezzlement Defense Attorneys: Protecting Your Rights
Being accused of embezzlement in Indiana can have a long-lasting impact on your life. Fines, incarceration, and damage to your reputation are all possible consequences. Given this, it’s important for individuals facing these accusations to understand the criminal charges that the prosecution may pursue. Understanding how embezzlement offenses are prosecuted under Indiana law is the first step to building a strong defense.
In this blog, the Indianapolis embezzlement defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP provide a guide to navigating embezzlement charges in Indiana. Here, we explain what embezzlement is and how the state handles these cases under Indiana theft or fraud laws. We will also discuss the potential penalties for embezzlement in Indiana, which vary based on the circumstances of the offense.
If you have any immediate questions about the embezzlement laws in Indiana, or would like to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney today, do not hesitate to call our office at 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Indianapolis Embezzlement Defense Attorneys: Understanding Embezzlement and Prosecution in Indiana
While lower-level theft is often a spur-of-the-moment decision, white collar crimes are different. Embezzlement occurs when someone who has been entrusted with managing the funds or finances of another person or organization takes or transfers funds for themselves or another party.
With the exception of a law specific to embezzlement of estate property, Indiana Code does not include a statute that governs embezzlement in general, so the offense is generally prosecuted under the state’s theft and/or fraud laws. Theft is defined under Indiana Code 35-43-4-2 as exerting unauthorized control of another person’s property with the intent to deprive that person of its use or value. Fraud, as defined in Indiana Code 35-43-5-4, occurs when false or misleading statements or impressions are made with the intent to obtain property, data, or benefits to which the person is not entitled.
Proving theft or fraud in Indiana requires evidence that the accused acted “knowingly or intentionally.” This can be difficult for the prosecution to prove. If your attorney determines that the prosecution lacks evidence of knowledge or intent, this can be a strong element of your defense.
In some cases, embezzlement or theft is a federal offense. If you are charged with federal embezzlement and/or theft, your case will be tried in the federal court of jurisdiction under the laws outlined in Title 18, Chapter 31 of US Code.
Being accused of embezzlement in Indiana can seriously impact your reputation, career, and finances. If you are convicted of theft, fraud, or other charges related to embezzlement, the penalties may include fines, restitution, and incarceration. It is highly recommended that you work with experienced Indiana white collar defense attorneys who can help you navigate through the state’s complicated theft and fraud laws, among other laws that could apply to your case.
Penalties for Embezzlement in Indiana
If you are accused of embezzlement in Indiana and charged with theft, fraud, or both, the level of charges and related penalties are largely based on the amount of property taken. In cases where the embezzled property is worth less than $750, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor. People convicted of this offense can be fined up to $5,000 and spend up to one year in jail.
If the property is valued at $750 to $50,000, the offense is a Level 6 felony. This offense is punishable by six months to two and one-half years imprisonment and fines of up to $10,000. In cases involving embezzlement of more than $50,000, the charge is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison and fines of as much as $10,000.
It is important to note that the provisions of Indiana’s theft and fraud laws specify other conditions that can elevate the level of charges against the accused. These include considerations related to the type of property taken, characteristics of the person or entity it was taken from, and the existence of a previous conviction on the defendant’s record, among others.
A convicted defendant may also be required to pay restitution as part of the sentencing for these charges. This means the person has to pay back the amount that was taken.
The experienced Indianapolis embezzlement defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP understand the various laws that may apply in these cases. Strong legal representation is essential to fight Indiana theft, fraud, or other charges related to embezzlement. With so much on the line, your attorney must be up to the challenge.
Conversion vs. Theft Charges in Embezzlement Cases
Conversion, as outlined in Indiana Code 35-43-4-3, is another charge that may apply. Theft and conversion are very similarly defined under Indiana law. However, theft requires the intent to deprive the property owner of the use or value of the property, while conversion involves no such intent. If the defendant intended to return the property to the owner later, conversion is the more appropriate charge. Like theft and fraud, conversion can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or a Level 5 or 6 felony, depending on the circumstances, with the potential penalties noted previously.
Federal Charges Explained by Indianapolis Embezzlement Defense Attorneys
Embezzlement is a federal crime under some circumstances. This occurs primarily when the case involves federal funds or property, crosses state lines, or occurs in connection with a federal program or agency. These are some of the situations in which embezzlement may be a federal offense:
- The alleged embezzlement involves funds allocated to federal agencies, federal grants, or any property owned by the federal government.
- The funds or property move between different states or involve businesses operating in multiple states
- The offense is committed by federal employees in the course of their duties
- The funds are taken from federally insured financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions
- The offense is committed by a public official or employee and involves public funds or assets
- Significant sums of money are involved, even if not directly related to federal funds or property
Federal embezzlement offenses are typically prosecuted in federal courts. The United States Attorneys’ Office with jurisdiction over the federal district where the crime is alleged to have occurred handles these cases. Indiana has two US Attorneys’ Offices: one for the Northern District of Indiana and one for the Southern District, which includes Indianapolis. Federal judges preside over the trials, and the penalties for federal embezzlement convictions can include fines, imprisonment, and restitution to the victim.
Federal and state jurisdictions overlap, and in some cases, embezzlement may be prosecuted in both federal and state courts, depending on the circumstances of the case. Federal authorities are more likely to prosecute when the crime has a significant federal aspect, such as the involvement of federal funds or programs; but a lack of interest by federal officials does not mean a charge will not be brought by state prosecutors.
If you are accused of embezzlement at the federal level, it is important to work with attorneys who are admitted to practice in federal courts, like the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, which has jurisdiction in Indianapolis.
Defense Strategies for Embezzlement Charges
When someone finds themself in a difficult situation involving embezzlement and fraud or theft charges in Indiana, there are numerous defense strategies to explore. One possible defense is lack of intent. This is when the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant “knowingly or intentionally” misappropriated property and that any misuse was an accident. Another strategy is to call into question any evidence or arguments that the defendant is correctly identified as the person who committed the crime. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, so insufficient evidence of these facts and others can weaken or destroy the prosecution’s case.
A thorough examination of all evidence in the case is required to build a strong defense against charges related to embezzlement. This means combing through the chain of custody of the allegedly embezzled property, analyzing financial records for any inconsistencies, gathering witness and expert testimony, and investigating other explanations of what occurred.
Engaging in plea negotiations can also be a viable strategy in some embezzlement cases. This involves working with the prosecution to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, such as a reduced charge or sentence, sometimes in exchange for providing valuable information or cooperation.
Contact the Indianapolis Embezzlement Defense Attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer
Embezzlement charges can have consequences that extend beyond the scope of the law, and can impact your employment, reputation, and future career opportunities. In fact, in some situations, whether you are convicted or not, your employer might terminate you to avoid potential fallout for the company.
To avoid any collateral consequences and provide yourself with a stronger chance at the securing the optimal outcome in the case against you, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. Our Indianapolis embezzlement defense attorneys are skilled and experienced in defending clients against white collar criminal charges. They know Indiana’s embezzlement laws inside and out and can help develop strategies to minimize both your potential penalties and any other long-term personal impacts.