Embezzlement refers to the theft or misappropriation of funds or property to which you have been entrusted.
For example, you may be charged with embezzlement where your employer has given you control of an account for business purposes, and you use funds in that account for some other unauthorised purpose.
It is a form of fraud that has the potential to result in heavy penalties; however you can maximise your chances of avoiding a conviction or heavy penalty with the assistance of an experienced legal team.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® has successfully represented and won a multitude of serious fraud cases.
Our criminal law specialists have the expert knowledge and skills to secure the best possible outcome in your embezzlement case.
Your Options in Court
Pleading Not Guilty
Before you can be found guilty of embezzlement, there are certain factors that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you were a ‘clerk or servant’ – in other words, an employee;
- That you had possession of the money or property on behalf of your employer;
- That you fraudulently stole or misappropriated the money or property for some other use.
If you are charged with ‘larceny by public servant’ under section 160 of the Crimes Act, the prosecution must also prove that you were a public servant or someone employed by the government or a public body.
If the prosecution is unable to prove each and every one of these factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be found ‘not guilty’ of embezzlement.
Our lawyers will fight hard to protect your rights and interests by presenting all favourable evidence in a positive light and carefully examining all witnesses to cast doubt on the prosecution case.
Our lawyers can also identify and raise all possible defences, for example:
- Where you honestly and reasonably believed that you had a legal claim to the property (claim of right);
- Where you were threatened or coerced into embezzling the money or property (duress);
Embezzlement is a complex area of the law that demands the skill and insight of an experienced lawyer.
Our expert defence team have considerable experience fighting and winning fraud matters such as embezzlement and can advise you of the best steps to take in your embezzlement case.
For more information on embezzlement by clerk or servant, see our criminal legislation page here.
For more information on embezzlement by public servant, click here.
In some circumstances, you may simply wish to accept the allegations against you and plead guilty.
This is often beneficial as it shows the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.
Accordingly, the court is usually willing to impose a more lenient penalty than if you had been found guilty following a defended hearing.
However, it’s important to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer before pleading guilty as there may be some way in which you can fight the charges and escape a conviction altogether.
If you’re thinking about pleading guilty, you should also familiarise yourself with the maximum penalties that could apply.
The maximum penalty for embezzlement by clerk or servant is 10 years imprisonment.
The same maximum penalty applies in the case of larceny by public servant.
While these penalties may seem harsh, it is important to remember that they are the absolute maximums and will therefore only apply in the most serious cases.
If you wish to plead guilty, our highly skilled defence advocates can assist you in avoiding these heavy penalties by preparing persuasive sentencing submissions which highlight the positive factors of your case and persuade the court to impose a more lenient penalty.
The types of penalties that the court can impose include:
- Section 10 Dismissal
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Order
Our lawyers are highly skilled in preparing and delivering compelling sentencing submissions in some of the most serious fraud matters and will fight hard to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome in your embezzlement case.
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