Embezzlement Laws: Understanding the Basics of Financial Fraud

Recently, financial fraud has become an increasingly prevalent concern in the business world. One form of financial fraud that poses a significant threat to businesses and individuals alike is embezzlement. Embezzlement involves the misappropriation or theft of funds entrusted to someone, often an employee, for personal gain. 

More frequently, Florida law is becoming more stringent concerning embezzlement cases. If you are facing an embezzlement charge, trust a Tampa fraud defense lawyer with The Rickman Law Firm for high-quality legal representation supported by experience and skill.

The Basics of Financial Fraud

Financial fraud encompasses a range of deceptive actions. It is defined by the State of Florida as the intentional act of deceiving others to secure financial gain, leading to criminal charges if proven. Whether committed through false representations, deceptive practices, or other means, financial fraud covers a broad spectrum of activities that undermine the integrity of financial transactions. 

Understanding the fundamentals of financial fraud can help you understand your case better, as these offenses often overlap with embezzlement cases, forming the basis for legal action and emphasizing the State’s commitment to combating fraudulent practices. If you are facing charges related to financial fraud, you should be aware of the specific statutes governing financial fraud and immediately seek legal counsel from a skilled fraud defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm. They can help properly guide and defend you during your case’s legal proceedings.

Defining Embezzlement

An embezzlement is an act where individuals who have financial responsibilities at a workplace, charity, or other place divert funds for personal use without proper authorization. This action can take place across various sectors, including businesses, nonprofits, and government entities. In Florida, embezzlement is treated with a high degree of gravity, carrying severe legal consequences for any individual charged.

While embezzlement is not specifically outlined in the Florida legislature, it is usually prosecuted under the terms of theft. Florida Statute 812.014 outlines the various degrees of theft offenses, each corresponding to the value of the misappropriated property. The degrees range from petit theft for property valued under $750 to grand theft for higher-value thefts.

Degrees of Embezzlement

Florida’s legal system classifies theft offenses, including embezzlement, into degrees based on the monetary value of the misappropriated property. For instance, if an employee embezzles funds exceeding $750 but less than $5,000, they may be charged with grand theft in the third degree.

The penalties associated with each degree of theft are explicitly defined and vary depending on the value of the misappropriated property. Penalties may include fines, restitution to the victim, and imprisonment.

Elements of Proof and Potential Defense Strategies

Prosecuting embezzlement cases requires establishing specific elements to prove the defendant’s guilt. The prosecution must demonstrate that the accused individual had access to the funds, held a position of trust or fiduciary duty, and knowingly diverted the funds for personal use. To fight for your justice, your fraud defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm will employ a deliberately planned defense. Some defenses that may be employed for your embezzlement defense include:

Lack of Intent

A lack of intent strategy includes arguing that the misappropriation was accidental or lacked the requisite intent to commit embezzlement. This defense hinges on demonstrating that the accused did not purposefully divert funds for personal gain but may have been involved in inadvertent financial errors or misunderstandings.

Mistaken Identity

Your Tampa fraud defense lawyer may choose to argue that you have been wrongly identified as the perpetrator, highlighting issues of mistaken identity. This defense challenges the accuracy and reliability of witness identifications, questioning whether the accused was genuinely the individual responsible for the alleged embezzlement.

Insufficient Evidence

This strategy requires challenging the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and questioning whether it meets the legal threshold for conviction. It involves scrutinizing the quality and reliability of the evidence presented, aiming to cast doubt on the prosecution’s ability to prove the alleged misappropriation beyond a reasonable doubt.


A consent strategy includes arguing that the owner of the funds provided explicit or implicit consent for the accused to access or use the funds in question. It emphasizes the existence of an understanding or agreement between the accused and the owner, suggesting that the financial transactions were conducted with the owner’s knowledge and approval.

The Importance of Skilled Legal Counsel Defense

Embezzlement cases often present intricate financial details that require a careful examination of evidence. Financial records, transactions, and documentation become crucial components in establishing or refuting allegations of embezzlement. In many instances, the forensic analysis of financial documents may become a pivotal aspect of the defense strategy. 

Get Strong Legal Defense From an Attorney With The Rickman Law Firm

If you are facing an embezzlement charge, the first step that you need to take is to seek quality legal counsel and representation. Embezzlement cases demand meticulous attention, and with a Tampa fraud defense attorney with The Rickman Law Firm by your side, you can know you have someone dedicated to working tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Call our office at (813) 370-1185 or fill out the consultation form on our website for embezzlement case representation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist you.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


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