White Collar Crime Attorney Chester County
Chester County White Collar and Theft Crimes
While non-violent in nature, Chester County white-collar crimes carry severe penalties if you are convicted. They are anything but “victimless” offenses. Individuals and companies in the Philadelphia region stand to lose a great deal of money if they are victimized by fraud or theft-related offenses and are not reluctant to press charges. Our Chester County Criminal practice has the experience and legal knowledge you need if you are facing a Pennsylvania County white-collar crime accusation that stands to end your career and change your life forever.
Embezzlement is considered a white-collar crime, and is usually committed by those with no prior criminal history. In fact, the percentage of those convicted of embezzlement who had a prior criminal conviction is only about 4 percent. Although the crime of embezzlement is neither new, nor particularly rare, there has been an increase in embezzlement cases over the last two decades. Interestingly, almost two-thirds of those charged with the crime of embezzlement were female in 2010. The three main factors in embezzlement charges are: rationalization, opportunity and pressure.
Why People Take Money
A person who embezzles money is almost always under some type of financial pressure, whether from gambling, too much debt, a drug or alcohol addiction or from living beyond his or her means. What is almost certain is that the person who embezzles needs money for one reason or another. The second factor is opportunity—the person who embezzles money sees a perceived opportunity which can likely be kept secret. Typically, embezzlement involves the creation of fake invoices or transactions, forgery, or the unauthorized issuance of company checks. Finally, there is the rationalization factor. As noted, most of those who commit the crime of embezzlement in their workplace have no criminal past, and are first-time offenders. These people usually rationalize their theft by telling themselves one of the following:
- I’m underpaid, so I deserve the money.
- I’ll pay it back.
- I’m just providing for my family.
- My boss has treated my badly, so I deserve the money.
- This company has so much money, I’m not hurting anyone.
- Everyone else at work takes things, why not me?
Women are more likely to justify their theft in terms of the needs of a spouse or children, while mean who embezzle, do so out of financial need brought on by their own behavior—drugs, cars, impressing others, gambling, etc. Men are also more likely to tell themselves they are only “borrowing” the money. Most of those who take money from their employer are considered a loyal, long-term, trusted employee. While women commit the vast majority of embezzling crimes, they only embezzle about 20 percent of the total money taken in embezzlement crimes.
Men only commit about 20 percent of embezzlement crimes, but take about 80 percent of the money. In other words, when a man embezzles, he is more likely to take much larger amounts than a woman. Women who embezzle are almost always fired, while men, who are typically in higher level positions, may have embezzled millions, yet are much less likely to be fired or charged with a crime. The average age of a person charged with embezzlement is 43, and the average prison sentence for a person convicted of embezzlement is a bit more than four years.
Embezzlement in the State of Pennsylvania
While embezzlement and other white-collar crimes do not rise to the level of crimes like murder and rape, the crime of embezzlement can still bring serious penalties. Because of this, it is extremely important that you have a knowledgeable Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices by your side from the time you are charged. Our attorneys have significant levels of experience defending clients for white-collar crimes such as embezzlement. We will immediately begin working on your defense, negotiating with the prosecutor in an attempt to have your charges lowered or dropped. While no single law covers the crime of embezzlement in the state of Pennsylvania, the state’s anti-theft laws cover the offense. These laws make it a crime to unlawfully take property, or to take property using deception or extortion. Theft by deception is the most common type of embezzlement.
Penalties for Embezzlement
If you are convicted of embezzlement, your penalties will depend on the amount stolen, and the type of property. If you are convicted of embezzling money or property worth less than $50, the maximum penalty is up to a year in jail, unless you are accused of stealing services or breaching a fiduciary duty. If you are convicted of embezzling money or property worth more than $50 but less than $200, the maximum penalty is up to two years in jail unless a breach of fiduciary duty is involved. In either of the above situations, if fiduciary duty is breached, you could face up to five years behind bars. Embezzlement of money or property worth more than $2,000 is a felony, carrying a penalty of up to seven years in prison.
How the Prosecutor Must Prove the Crime of Embezzlement
The prosecutor in your case must prove that you took property or money which did not belong to you, and that you did so with intent—that is, you intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property. To “deprive” under state law means you engaged in an activity which reduced the value of the property either substantially or completely, or that engaged in an activity which significantly reduced the likelihood the owner would recover the property.
The prosecutor must also show that you obtained the property/money through an agreement, or as a part of your fiduciary duties. As an example, perhaps you were entrusted with the checks at your place of business because you paid the monthly bills. Or, perhaps your employer entrusted you with money for the purpose of financial management or investment. If the prosecutor definitively proves you failed to perform the services or acts you agreed on with your employer, or that you treated the entrusted property as your own, you could be convicted of embezzlement.
Potential Defenses to Charges of Embezzlement
While your exact defense to the charges of embezzlement will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, however the following defenses might be applicable in your case:
- Lack of intent—Your attorney might be able to show facts and circumstances which prove you did not have the intent to misappropriate the embezzled property.
- Entrapment—It would be rare this defense could be used, as it would have to be shown that the owner of the property/money actively urged you to embezzle that property/money.
- Good faith belief—This means you were not aware that the embezzled property belonged to another—you believed, under good faith, that you had a right to the property.
- Expiration of the limitation period—This has to do with the statutes of limitations, which could begin from the time the misappropriate was discovered, from the time you used the misappropriated funds, or from the time you failed to account for funds entrusted to you.
How We Can Help
At the Ciccarelli Law Offices, we want to help you through this difficult time. We believe that good people who simply made a mistake deserve a second chance, and we will work hard to ensure you get your second chance. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, success is our mission—we are driven to serve and ready to fight. Contact Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610)-692-8700.
The Consequences of White-collar Crimes
We see white-collar crimes being committed in Chester County. Bookkeepers cut checks for themselves. Executives misappropriate funds in their favor. Employees use company credit cards for unauthorized purchases or personal credit cards are stolen and used. Employers abuse workers compensation benefits. Clinics could commit Medicaid and Medicare fraud.
While no guns were drawn and no one was physically hurt, the damage done by a Chester County white-collar crime will get the court’s attention. Restitution for embezzlement, identity theft, or forgery may only be the start. Lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines may follow. Get legal advice now from our Chester County White Collar Crimes lawyers.
Seen an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney
Too much is at stake to give in to the prosecution. An immediate guilty plea is not wise. You need a seasoned defense attorney and former prosecutor who knows how white-collar crime cases are built. Your arrest does not have to lead to a conviction. You have choices, you have options and perhaps most you have rights that we fight to protect.
We make your choice all the clearer fighting for clients throughout Chester County. If you are being investigated or have been arrested for a white-collar crime or property crime anywhere in Chester County, you need to seek an aggressive Pennsylvania defense attorney. Contact us (610) 692-8700 for a free case evaluation.