The wrongful use of the property of another person for one's own benefit may be considered embezzlement if the property in question has been legally entrusted by the owner to the person who is misusing it. Although most charges of embezzlement are levied against persons who are employees of a company or individual, acts of Congress classify as embezzlement the stealing of letters and other mail by postmasters, clerks, and letter carriers. Embezzlement is a serious charge; in most states it is considered a felony offense. The potential punishments for an embezzlement conviction include prison time and significant fines.

There are many different types of embezzlement, but around 80% of cases involve the misappropriation of assets, including inventory and supplies. Most commonly, persons accused of embezzlement are being investigated in relation to missing cash, either on hand or from business bank accounts. Embezzlement charges may be levied against almost anyone who has access to these accounts or cash on hand (such as petty cash), and a charge of embezzlement can be almost as damaging as a conviction.

As previously mentioned, there can be strict consequences for a person convicted of embezzlement. These may include any combination of imprisonment, probation or parole, loss of the right to be bonded, restitution to be paid to the victims of embezzlement, court-ordered counseling, and large fines. Sentencing for embezzlement may take into account any prior convictions, attitude of the community towards crimes such as embezzlement, degree of media attention on the case, and mitigating circumstances.

The best way to organize a defense against embezzlement charges is to retain a qualified attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer who has experience in representing persons accused of embezzlement will be able to help you understand the charges, organize your defense, and make critical legal decisions. Early preparation and investigation may lead to the embezzlement charges being dropped altogether. If you or someone you love has been accused of embezzlement, speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

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