Embezzlement—a crime proven by excluding the other possibilities

In our increasingly digitized society, white collar crime is fast becoming one of the most frequently seen kinds of fraud by business owners, auditors, and law enforcement. It is estimated to cost US business more than a quarter-trillion dollars per year—more than the property losses for personal property crimes.

But while there is so much of it, the cases that are brought can often be hurried and incomplete with such an onslaught of cases facing regulators and police. A frequent issue in these cases, outside ones for six-figure amounts or more, is that investigators do not adequately exclude other possibilities for the loss of property—like other people in a business who had access to funds, the possibility of falsified data used to falsely accuse the person charged, or confusion between employees about who had authority to do what with the monies they were given responsibility for.

Many cases involving embezzlement, therefore, rely on prosecutors having to finish investigations or drop charges and instruct parties to re-investigate what happened before proceeding any further.

An experienced defense attorney, however, can greatly help a client facing this kind of charge.

  • One way is using subpoenas duces tecum to bring out documentary evidence that shows other possibilities of how money is lost.
  • Another is to closely examine the digital record of accounts in a company’s system—which can show how data was falsified using forensic techniques that show how computer files were not properly secured or were changed in ways that raise doubts about the identity of the culprit. This kind of evidence is particularly powerful once it’s shown to have been tampered with. But this evidence in particular requires an attorney with experience explaining to judges and juries why the data show how someone is innocent.
  • Even evidence as mundane as payment records or online orders can show how someone is innocent because of when the person accused did something.

A proper investigation will go over all these possibilities before bringing a charge. But, unless you have experience poring through these kinds of records, it’s difficult to recognize both what is there and what is not there that should be.

A conviction for embezzlement carries a very different effect than more mundane fraud or theft offenses, like using someone else car without their permission or shoplifting. A business owner in certain industries can’t hire someone with a history of stealing from an employer—it carries too much insurance risk, their bonding status could be endangered, and anyone later harmed by a known-embezzler might file suit against the business for their losses. In short, a record for embezzlement can destroy someones career.

If you or someone you know is facing a charge of embezzlement, the attorneys at Winslow & McCurry have experience helping people with these kinds of accusations. Decades spent building someone’s reputation is too valuable an investment to leave to chance, and our staff can help you protect what you’ve worked hard to build.