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Section 157 Crimes Act 1900

“Embezzlement” refers to situations where your employer or master has entrusted you with funds or property, and you steal or use the property for some unauthorised purpose.

To be found guilty of this offence, the prosecution must prove that you were an employee or clerk, and that you possessed property on behalf of your master or employer, which you stole or used for some unauthorised purpose.

Embezzlement is a fraud offence and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

While this is obviously a lengthy penalty that can have a significant impact on your life, it’s important to remember that it is the absolute maximum and will therefore only apply in the most serious situations.

Our lawyers are experts in the area of fraud law and can assist you in obtaining a lenient penalty or avoiding a conviction altogether if you have been charged with embezzlement.

The Legislation

Section 157 of the Crimes Act deals with the offence of “embezzlement by clerks or servants” and reads as follows:

157 Embezzlement by clerks or servants

Whosoever, being a clerk, or servant, fraudulently embezzles, either the whole or any part of, any property delivered to, or received, or taken into possession by him or her, for, or in the name, or on the account of, his or her master, or employer, shall be deemed to have stolen the same, although such property was not received into the possession of such master, or employer, otherwise than by the actual possession of such clerk, or servant, and shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with. Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:

  1. Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results

    Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases.

    Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial.

    Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.

    We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.

    Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.

  2. Highest Level of Client Satisfaction

    We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia.

    Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities.

    We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.

    We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.

  3. Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm

    We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running.

    The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.

  4. Fixed Fees

    We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004.

    We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.

    Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.

  5. Free First Appointment

    For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers.

    We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.

  6. Specialist Lawyer Guarantee

    We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court.

    This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.

  7. All NSW Courts

    From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases.

    And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.

  8. Accredited Specialists

    Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists.

    All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005.

    An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field.

    Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.

    Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.

  9. Results-Focused Law Firm

    Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet.

    The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’.

    Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.

    No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.

    The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.

  10. Team of Lawyers Behind You

    Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide.

    Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.

    A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.

    In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.

  11. Familiar with Magistrates and Judges

    Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state.

    Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.

  12. Convenience

    We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:

    • the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
    • Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
    • Parramatta, near the justice precinct.

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.

    For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.

    If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

Recent Cases

No Conviction for 8 Counts of Embezzlement

Our client was working for a large retailer and was alleged by the company to have misappropriated nearly $20,000 worth of cash and stock. Even though our client denied almost all of the claims, our client was pressured into making admissions of significant wrongdoing, after having been threatened with severe criminal charges and lengthy gaol time by an external investigator. Our client was ambushed by the allegations, and did not have the benefit of legal representation or even another person in the room. After being forced to sign a document under what could be described as conditions of duress, the matter was referred to Police, who subsequently laid multiple charges under section 157 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), Embezzlement by clerk or servant. The law allows for a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for each count if the case is heard in the District Court, or two years if the case remains in the Local Court. A conviction would have been devastating for our client. In its case, the Prosecution sought to adduce evidence of the forced admissions and rely on these to prove the guilt of our client. Our client maintained throughout the legal process that although there might have been some minor transgressions, they were nowhere near the extent or amount of that claimed by the company, which had a history of problems with stock loss and misappropriation. Our defence team worked closely with our client to ascertain exactly what had happened, and examined in detail the Prosecution Brief of Evidence. After forming a legal opinion, we prepared a strong argument on the exclusion of the admissions on the basis of them being wrongly obtained, and therefore inadmissible under section 85 of the Evidence Act 1995 (NSW). That provision of the Evidence Act refers to the reliability of admissions by defendants in criminal cases. Admissions, by their very nature, are highly prejudicial to a defendant; that is, they carry substantial weight and are very persuasive to a judge or jury. The Australian Law Reform Commission, in considering the law, said that it ‘…requires the trial judge to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the admission was made in circumstances that were not likely to affect its truth adversely. The trial judge should determine, as a preliminary issue, whether the reliability of the admission may have been impacted by the way it was obtained. In making his decision he should take into account a number of factors – whether there was misconduct by those interrogating, whether procedural safeguards were adopted, whether the ability of the person making the admission to make rational decisions was substantially impaired.’ The law of admissions is balancing act. It recognises that admitting to a certain offence does and should be indicative of guilt. But it is also a procedural safeguard. Our system of laws is based on arriving at a conclusion on the basis of accurate, unbiased, and properly obtained evidence. Forced admissions are an affront to a good and fair legal system. Ultimately, our team conducted a negotiations process with the Crown Prosecutor, which resulted in a plea of guilty being entered to a single charge and the facts more accurately reflecting what had actually occurred. On sentencing, the Court dismissed the matter without proceeding to conviction, conditional of our client being of good behaviour for a period of two years. The case shows the importance of a forensic assessment of a Prosecution case and intimate understanding of evidentiary and procedural provisions, to ensure that our system of laws and procedural safeguards are maintained.

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