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Defending against embezzlement allegations

Many Louisianans work in professions where they control or have access to the finances of another. A corporate manager, for example, may be responsible for making large transactions on the company's behalf. When an audit discovers that money is missing, an individual in a position of power may be subjected to questioning and, eventually, criminal charges.

When confronted with a white collar crime charge like embezzlement, the first step a defendant should take is to understand the offense he or she is accused of committing. Embezzlement is theft, of either money or property, by an individual who holds a position in which they are trusted with that money or property. In some instances, embezzlement involves manipulating the accounting records of a business in an attempt to hide the theft.

Next, a criminal defendant needs to understand what the prosecution must show before they can obtain a conviction. Typically, a prosecutor must show that a relationship of trust existed between the defendant and the alleged victim; that the defendant obtained property or money through that relationship; that the accused individual took control over the property or money for his or someone else's personal use; and that these acts were carried out intentionally. If a prosecutor fails to prove any of these elements, then an acquittal may be reached.

This leads to the next step, which is to put forth a strong criminal defense. A competent defense will use the facts at hand, as well as applicable law, to poke holes in the prosecution's case and raise reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt. By discussing the matter with an experienced attorney, those accused of a crime like embezzlement can create a legal strategy that works for them, which may include negotiating and/or taking the matter to trial, all in hopes of avoiding harsh penalties.

Source: FindLaw, "Embezzlement," accessed on Nov. 28, 2016

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