Skip to Content
State and Federal Criminal Defense Representation

What are Some Defenses Against Embezzlement Charges?


Embezzlement is one of the most common white-collar crimes in America. While it may not be as exciting to the ordinary citizen as a high-profile crime, the legal system isn’t kind to perpetrators. So, if you’re facing embezzlement charges, it’s crucial to have a federal criminal defense lawyer in Orange County, CA, come to your defense.

It’s essential to understand embezzlement from a legal perspective before you can create a defense. The definition forms the basis upon which criminal defense attorneys argue their case in trying to defend you.

How Does the Law Define Embezzlement?

Embezzlement refers to a white-collar crime that falls in the category of crimes committed by individuals in business or government. It’s also a larceny crime since it’s a crime of theft or misappropriation of funds belonging to an employer. As an employer, the perpetrator has legal access to the funds but acted wrongfully in managing or putting them into use.

Embezzlement can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount of money in question. The more money involved in an embezzlement case, the harder it can be to create a strong defense and the harsher the penalties it attracts.

Can Embezzlement Charges Be Dropped?

An embezzlement charge can result in a lesser sentence. That depends on whether the jury treats the case as a misdemeanor or felony. Several other factors also come into play, and the jury may drop the charges if the evidence doesn’t sufficiently prove that the defendant committed the crime of embezzlement.

Insufficient evidence is one of the successful defenses in instances of embezzlement that lack a paper trail. About forty percent of federal embezzlement charges are dropped due to insufficient evidence. However, the court must find the perpetrator not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Additionally, the jury may drop the charges if the investigators fail to present a clear case against the defendant. A national embezzlement attorney can create a strong defense for the defendant to have the charges dropped.

What Are Some Common Defenses to Embezzlement?

For an embezzlement case to be so, four elements must exist for the prosecution to establish a conviction:

  • The perpetrator must have had a confidential affiliation with the plaintiff
  • The perpetrator must have attained or gained ownership of the misappropriated funds through the fiduciary connection
  • The perpetrator must have attained ownership through the relationship with the intention to deprive the owner permanently
  • The perpetrator’s actions must have been intentional

A national embezzlement attorney can help create an effective defense to embezzlement by disapproving any of these four elements. In addition to insufficient evidence, other possible defenses include the following:

Absence of Intent to Commit a Crime

As with most crimes, the crime of embezzlement must be intentional. The prosecutor must demonstrate that the perpetrator intended to take assets from the employer for their own gain. If the perpetrator did not intend to deprive another’s assets permanently, that might be a defense to embezzlement. It also wouldn’t be a case of embezzlement if the crime occurred because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication.


Duress is a somewhat rare defense against embezzlement but can be viable depending on the circumstances. Coercion happens when an individual thinks they’re in danger or will face harm unless they commit a crime.

For example, if an employer forces an employee to embezzle money or make them lose their job, that could be considered coercion. A federal criminal defense lawyer in Orange County, CA, can help you to present duress as a defense depending on the circumstances.


Entrapment happens when the government compels an innocent individual to commit a crime they generally wouldn’t have committed. For example, the government can set up bait assets targeting an individual to make them embezzle funds. Typically, the prosecution will try to argue that the defendant would have committed the crime of embezzlement anyway. An experienced Southern California embezzlement attorney can reason out your case to prove your innocence.


Incapacitation can be physical or mental. If the defense proves that the perpetrator had some incapacity when the embezzlement happened, that could be a strong justification against the charge. For example, suppose the perpetrator was under the influence of medication that affected their judgment and caused them to transfer funds entrusted to them wrongfully. In that case, they could have a strong defense. However, using intoxicants voluntarily may not work in creating a defense.

Good Faith Belief or Money Taken for Legitimate Purposes

If a criminal defense lawyer can show that the defendant believed in good faith that they were not committing a crime or embezzlement, this can be a solid defense to the charges. The defendant can present a compelling argument as to why they thought the embezzlement was legal, right, or servicing legitimate business purposes. Depending on the agreement, the defense can be deemed to lack intention, as mentioned above.

Expiration of the Limitation Period

California laws stipulate the amount of time the prosecution has to file an embezzlement or fraud charge. The defendant may cite the expiration of the limitation period even if the case is rightful and has compelling evidence.

However, if the crime was concealed in any way, the concealment period doesn’t count toward the limitation period. A national embezzlement lawyer can help you understand the limitation period in depth.

Legal Guidance from a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

You were probably attending to our duties when suddenly you got charged with a crime that tainted your reputation and threatened your livelihood and freedom. An embezzlement charge or conviction can have severe implications on your future employability. Don’t suffer in silence.

Our criminal defense attorney can help you get the best possible outcome in your embezzlement case. We will explore every possible defense and try to negotiate a dismissal or a favorable plea agreement. In the event of a trial, we can use evidentiary procedure and technical motions to limit the prosecution’s ability to secure a conviction. Contact us today to schedule a FREE case assessment.

The post What are Some Defenses Against Embezzlement Charges? appeared first on Law Office of Diane C. Bass, A Professional Law Corporation.