Embezzlement in North Carolina: Your Criminal Defense Strategies

What does panic feel like? Well, in some cases it can begin when statements such as these are directed to you:

  • “Mr. Prosser would like you to report to the manager’s office after your shift is over. It’s something about the bank deposits being short these last three weeks.”
  • “That was Mrs. van Hoskins on the phone. She says she handed you a check for $2,000 in August, and now her accountant needs a receipt for her charity tax deduction. But I looked at our books, and there was nothing recorded about a gift to the Foundation from van Hoskins for over a year. What’s going on?”
  • “Terry, this is about Mr. Boothroyd. You waited on his table last week. Mr. Boothroyd says that since he dined with us, his credit card has been used for seven fraudulent transactions totaling over ten thousand dollars. What do you know about that?

The scope of embezzlement

Embezzlement is a white-collar financial crime defined in Chapter 14, Article 18 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Embezzlement occurs when someone uses his special position—as an employee, volunteer, manager, financial adviser, or friend—to take money entrusted to his care and secretly convert it to private use. Many high-profile cases of embezzlement in North Carolina are reported in the media because they involve large sums of money or because particularly vulnerable people, such as the elderly or the poor, were victimized. However, the justice system in our state deals just as harshly with convicted defendants whose cases have never been reported in the news.

It is relatively simple for a local prosecutor to file embezzlement charges in New Hanover County. In some North Carolina felony cases, the District Attorney’s office faces the challenge of proving the defendant had the means to commit the crime. An embezzlement accusation simplifies matters enormously; the prosecutor merely has to show that the defendant had direct access to the money in question or indirectly controlled those funds by virtue of his job or other position of trust.

Three defense strategies

Just as prosecution is easy for an embezzlement case, finding a solid defense is hard. If you have been accused of this financial crime, there are three useful strategies that your Wilmington embezzlement defense attorneys may be able to use: 

  • Deny that conversion occurred. If the funds were never made part of your personal property, then you have not fulfilled the material requirements necessary for the crime.
  • Deny criminal intent. Embezzlement only happens if you had the intent to take as your own property something belonging to someone else. If you took property openly, without concealment or deception, then you may not have had the mind-set that is a necessary component of a criminal act. This is one of the most common defenses, especially when the defendant can provide a plausible explanation for her actions.
  • Deny that you knew the property was another person’s. If you took property or money home in the belief that it had been given to you legitimately, you cannot be held accountable for a criminal act.

Make sure your legal defense team is up to the challenge

As always, of course, the specific facts in your case will guide the best arguments to make in your defense. So you have to ask yourself: Are you really the right person to carry through with that defense? Do you understand all the rules of evidence and the legal precedents needed to give yourself a competent defense in New Hanover County criminal court?

Unless you’re a truly extraordinary person, the answer is NO. And when you can’t handle the job yourself, it’s time to call in experienced legal help.

Call Speaks Law Firm today at 910-341-7570 locally or toll-free at 877-593-4233. Our Wilmington criminal law attorneys have a sterling defense record and are ready to begin working on your felony embezzlement case right away. Every day that passes makes the challenge greater, so call today to learn what we can do on your behalf.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.
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