Embezzlement is defined as the fraudulent taking of one’s personal property whether it be money or property assets. Embezzlement is the theft by a person of trust or responsibility for those assets and typically occurs within employment or corporate settings. This process can be considered embezzlement even if the money or property is moved to a third party and the second party of longer has possession of the asset. Embezzlement became its own classification of crime because thefts were occurring without elements of larceny. This is because the person in question was given permission to possess the funds or property. Methods of embezzlement differ in which some embezzlers like to “skim off the top” which makes missing money less noticeable. Other embezzlers will take one large amount in a single transaction and disappear
The most common form of embezzlement is accounting embezzlement. This includes manipulating accounting records such as payroll checks to fabricated employees, fraudulent billing, and record falsifying. Common examples include store clerks, bank tellers, accountants, and financial advisors. The well-known investment fraud “Ponzi scheme” named after Charles Ponzi who scammed investors in 1919, is still commonly used by embezzlers around the world. This scheme tricks investors into investing money with the promise of investing the funds into new opportunities with low-risk highly generated returns. Instead of dispersing the new investor’s money where it belongs, the money is used to pay earlier investors and the scammer keeps a portion. This type of embezzlement relies on new investors and consistent money flow. Typically, once new recruitment and money flow has slowed down, the scheme will collapse.
Florida Embezzlement Laws and Punishment
According to Florida Statutes Section 812.014, the punishment for embezzlement depends on the value and severity of the theft and punishment is according to Florida theft laws. In the state of Florida, embezzlement can be classified as either a first, second, or third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison. Lower offenses of embezzlement will be classified as first or second degree misdemeanors punishable with up to one (1) year incarceration and fines up to $10,000.
First Degree Felony
To be charged with first degree felony embezzlement, the defendant must thieve property valued at or above $100,000; is stolen during and because of a declared state of emergency by the Governor; or is cargo from a shipper's loading platform valued at or above $50,000. The penalties of first degree felony embezzlement include a fine of up to $10,000, thirty (30) years imprisonment, or both.
Second Degree Felony
The following describes the value and property types in order for a defendant to be charged with second degree embezzlement: property is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000; cargo from a shipper’s loading platform valued at $50,000 or below; law enforcement or medical equipment valued at $300 or more; any property listed under “Third degree felony” when stolen because of and during a state of emergency declared by the Governor. Any defendant that has coordinated with one or more persons for the sole purpose of embezzling money or property with a value of $3,000 will be charged with a second degree felony. The penalties of second degree felony embezzlement include a fine of up to $10,000, up to fifteen (15) years imprisonment, or both.
Third Degree Felony
The following describes the value and property types in order for a defendant to be charged with third degree embezzlement: property valued at or above $300; a firearm of any value; a will or testamentary instrument; a commercially farmed animal; any amount of citrus consisting of 2000 or more pieces; a fire extinguisher; any controlled substance or illegal drug; or a stop sign. It is also a felony of the third degree to embezzle any property valued at $100 or more, but less than $300 from a dwelling or surrounding property. If a defendant is convicted of a third (3rd) or subsequent embezzlement misdemeanor, he or she will also be guilty of a felony in the third degree. The penalties for third degree felony embezzlement includes up to $5,000, up to five (5) years in imprisonment, or both.
First Degree Misdemeanor
A defendant will be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree who embezzles any money or property values between $100 and $300. The exception is when a defendant embezzles from a dwelling or surrounding property as described in third degree felony. If a defendant has been convicted of one or more misdemeanor thefts, penalties of first degree misdemeanor still apply. The penalties of first degree misdemeanor embezzlement include a fine of up to $1000, up to one (1) year imprisonment, or both.
Second Degree Misdemeanor
Embezzlement of property not specified in first, second, or third felony embezzlement or first degree embezzlement is considered a misdemeanor of the second degree. The penalties of second degree misdemeanor embezzlement include a fine of up to $500, up to 60 days in jail, or both.