Embezzlement in Florida: Former State Representative Indicted
In a case Americans have come far too accustomed to hearing in the news, another politician has been charged in connection with the embezzlement of campaign funds. The case involves former Florida State Representative Dwayne Taylor of Daytona Beach. Mr. Taylor was indicted on nine counts associated with a scheme to move funds from his campaign to his personal accounts.
What is Embezzlement?
People are typically familiar with the idea of embezzlement and associate it with unlawfully taking or hiding money. However, most people are unaware of the similar concept known as “misappropriation of funds”. This term is used in Florida law to refer to a situation where an individual unlawfully embezzles money–rather than other forms assets or property. Any charge of the theft or misuse of business assets is dealt with harshly by Florida law, it is critical that any individual who has been charged with these crimes seek the representation of a Florida criminal defense attorney.
In the event that an individual is charged with the misappropriation of funds, the prosecutor must establish three main facts in order to convict the defendant:
- The accused was entrusted with the control and possession of the assets in question, and those assets belonged to another individual or organization;
- The defendant knowingly misused the money or knowingly took action to allow for the misappropriation of the funds;
- The funds in question were used by the defendant for their own personal purpose. An example of this would be similar to the situation above where Mr. Taylor has been accused of transferring funds to his personal bank account.
In general, most cases involving the misappropriation of funds are dealt with at the state level through the Florida court system; however, in the event that the crime involves a large sum of money the case may be prosecuted at the federal level.
The following are some of the potential defenses an individual can raise when charged with the misappropriation of funds:
- The misappropriation was a mistake, i.e. a clerical error;
- The individual was given permissions to move or remove the funds;
- The defendant reasonably believed they were the owner of the funds in question.
It should be noted that claiming your intention to return misused funds at a later date is not an argument that is permissible in court.
Potential penalties for the conviction of misappropriation of funds vary based on the amount of money involved in the offense. Typically penalties for the conviction of misappropriation of funds are broken down into the following categories:
- Cases Involving $300 or Less are typically classified as a misdemeanor offense;
- Cases Involving $20,000 or Less are classified as a third-degree felony, an individual convicted of this offense can face up to five years in prison.
- Cases Involving $100,000 or Less are classified as a second-degree felony, anyone convicted of this crime faces up to 15 years in prison.
- Cases Involving More than $100,000 are classified as first-degree felonies and carries the punishment of up to 30 years in prison and a potential find of up to $10,000.00.
In certain cases, individuals convicted of the misappropriation of funds may be required to serve a term of probation or pay restitution to the plaintiff.
Do You Need Defense?
Potential conviction of embezzlement or the misappropriation of funds can come with severe penalties and a lengthy period of incarceration. Attorney Deric Zacca is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in both Federal and State court.