Phoenix, Mesa, and Scottsdale Embezzlement Defense Attorney
While the media tends to focus on violent crimes, drug trafficking and illegal immigration in Arizona, white collar crimes often fly under the radar. This includes embezzlement – the theft of assets by a person who is in a position of trust or responsibility for managing another’s assets. Embezzlement can arise in an employment setting or involve a fiduciary misappropriating funds from a client’s investment accounts. Regardless of the circumstances, embezzlement crimes are vigorously prosecuted and a conviction can lead to significant penalties, including imprisonment and fines.
The Blischak Law Firm has extensive experience handling a wide range of white collar crimes in Arizona. If you are facing embezzlement charges, we will devise a criminal defense strategy to preserve your freedom and protect your reputation. Our guiding principle is that anyone accused of a white collar crime is innocent until proven guilty.
Embezzlement in Arizona
Under Arizona law (ARS §13-1802), embezzlement is classified as a theft crime that is committed by an individual who had legal access to, but did not own, another person’s assets. There are basically two elements involved: (1) stealing for personal gain, and (2) violating a special position of trust, and there are many forms of embezzlement.
In an employment setting, for example, embezzlement occurs when an employee steals the assets of a company. This may involve officers misappropriating company funds, an executive underreporting assets or an accountant altering balance sheets or expense reports. At the same time, embezzlement can also occur when a professional investor diverts funds from a client’s account for personal gain. Finally, embezzlement may also involve family members or caretakers stealing money or property from a vulnerable person in their care.
Penalties for Embezzlement in Arizona
Embezzlement can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the assets that were taken. The penalties are as follows:
- Class 2 Felony – If the amount of money or property taken is $25,000 or more, punishable by 4 to 12.5 years in prison, and minimum fine of $1,000 or both.
- Class 3 Felony – If the theft amounts to more than $4,000, but less than $25,000, punishable by 2.5 to 8.5 years in prison, and minimum fine of $1,000 or both.
- Class 4 Felony – If theft is between $3,000 and $4,000, punishable by 18 months to 3.75 years in prison, and a minimum fine of $1,000 or both, and probation.
- Class 5 Felony – If the theft is more than $2,000, but less than $3,000, punishable by 9 months to 1.5 years in prison, and a minimum fine of $1,000, or both.
- Class 6 Felony – If the theft is between $1,000 and $2,500, or a person steals a firearm (or a dog for purposes of dog fighting), punishable by 6 months to 1 year in prison, and a minimum fine of $1,000 or both.
- Class 1 Misdemeanor – If the theft is less than $1000, punishable by 6 up to months in jail, plus 3 three years probation, and a fine up to $2,500.
Additionally, those who are convicted may be ordered to make restitution to the victim by returning the money or property, or making payments over time if the assets are no longer available. The court may also impose a period of probation until the money has been repaid.
Arizona Embezzlement Defense Attorney
The Blischak Law Firm has more than 25 years of experience handling embezzlement cases and a well-earned reputation for vigorously defending our clients. Because the state must be able to prove that the accused intended to take the money or property there are a number of possible defenses to an embezzlement charge.
We may be able to show that the property was a gift, for example, or that the accused reasonably believed he or she was the rightful owner of the assets. Our capable criminal defense attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation, analyze relevant evidence and devise a strategy to win an acquittal. In some cases, we may seek to have the charges reduced. In the event of a conviction, we will determine if there are grounds for an appeal, and continue to fight for your rights.
Ultimately, being accused of embezzlement has serious consequences that could result in the loss of your freedoms, significantly limit future employment prospects, and cause long lasting damage to your reputation. With so much at stake, it is crucial to have proper legal representation. Our criminal defense attorneys have the skills and resources to defend these cases, and a proven track record of achieving successful outcomes. If you have been accused of embezzlement, call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.