The Legal Standards for Embezzlement as a White-Collar Crime in Dallas
Learn about the legal standards for embezzlement, which is a serious white-collar crime in Dallas.
White-collar crime charges in Dallas are very serious, even though they don’t capture the public’s attention with the same intensity as violent crime.
One of the reasons white-collar crimes get less attention is because they involve money, rather than violence, bodily injury, or death.
The truth is, however, that many individuals are victims of white-collar crime, which impacts people on a personal and financial level, and can cause long-term negative consequences.
It’s important to first understand the nature of white-collar crimes, and then to isolate the crime of embezzlement, one of the more serious offenses in this category.
What Are White-Collar Crimes?
Although many people think they know the answer to the question of what white-collar crimes are, they may not have an understanding of the legal meaning of these offenses.
Legal wording differs in each state, but white-collar crime generally means any type of crime in which deception is used to obtain a financial gain of some kind.
People who commit white-collar crimes have the intent to deceive another person or institution.
Some common type of white-collar crimes include:
Contrary to popular belief, embezzlement doesn’t just occur at huge corporations. It can also happen to small businesses or individuals.
What Is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is a crime that occurs when a person that has authority or control over a client’s assets, steals those assets by appropriating them for personal use or personal gain.
One of the most common examples occurs when an investment adviser that is in charge of a client’s portfolio begins to manipulate accounting records to steal money from that client.
Embezzlement can also occur when a person that’s in charge of renting out a piece of property charges more than the owner is aware of and uses that extra money for personal gain.
The reason embezzlement is difficult to track is that many people who engage in this activity divert small amounts of money over a long period of time. As a result, it is challenging for others to realize that the perpetrator is embezzling funds until they conduct an external audit.
Texas law no longer has a crime called “embezzlement.” Instead, embezzlement is lumped in with other similar crimes under Texas’ consolidated theft statute. By putting similar crimes like embezzlement, larceny, extortion, swindling, shoplifting, and concealing stolen property under the general umbrella of “theft,” Texas law now makes it less likely that a defendant’s case will be dismissed or the defendant will be found not guilty because prosecutors charged the wrong crime.
To prove theft, prosecutors need to present evidence that shows, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant “unlawfully appropriate[ed] property with intent to deprive the owner of a property.” Appropriation of property is unlawful if:
(1) it is without the owner's effective consent;
(2) the property is stolen and the defendant appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another; or
(3) property in the custody of any law enforcement agency was explicitly represented by any law enforcement agent to the actor as being stolen and the actor appropriates the property believing it was stolen by another.
Texas Penal Code, section 31.03.
Embezzlement Defense Strategies
Some of the more common embezzlement defense strategies include:
Common Access – This means that other people had access to financial accounts that were embezzled, which can create reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. Lawyers don’t need to point to another suspect that could have embezzled the funds, they simply need to introduce the idea that there are other reasonable suspects.
Mistake – In some instances, defense lawyers can provide evidence that money was mistakenly placed in another account as opposed to being stolen.
Produce Bank Statements – Providing bank statements that show how all financial transactions were handled is an effective way to counter a charge of embezzlement.
Good Faith – Defendants that believed they were acting with authorization by the person accusing them of embezzlement, can use a good faith defense. Good faith is used even in cases in which that belief was wrong or wasn’t a reasonable assumption. As long as a lawyer can prove that the defendant acted under that belief, the defense can be effective.
False Accusation – Attorneys can also argue that their client is being falsely accused because someone has an agenda against them. This requires attorneys to show a pattern of activity by that other person that would make this false accusation strategy effective.
Finding an Attorney for White-Collar Crime in Dallas
An attorney for white-collar crime in Dallas can protect the rights of anyone accused of these serious offenses. Whether defendants are charged with embezzlement, identity theft, fraud, or money laundering, there are legal options available to them.
Without an experienced white collar defense attorney, prosecutors will have the upper hand, and the likelihood of serious jail time and hefty fines are far greater. No defense lawyer can guarantee an acquittal, but finding evidence or knowing when to negotiate with the prosecution for a lighter sentence can make a huge difference.
If you are looking for a white collar crime lawyer in Dallas, TX visit