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Proof of intent is crucial to an embezzlement case

Most Milwaukee employees strive to perform work duties with as few blunders as possible, but even the most committed workers make mistakes. Among the least forgivable errors is the mishandling of company money. Penalties for financial oversights may include disciplinary action, job loss and even criminal charges.

Embezzlement is a form of theft, a white collar crime involving the abuse of authority by a person allowed to handle others' property. Examples range from hourly workers who skim cash drawers to accountants who drain company coffers by manipulating facts and figures. In both cases, individuals take advantage of a position of trust to steal for personal gain.

Wisconsin law punishes misappropriation and other theft crimes based upon the value of stolen property. Misdemeanor charges are applied for theft of property valued at $2,500 or less. Embezzlement of property worth more than $2,500 involves felony charges, which increase proportionately in severity with property value.

Embezzlement is primarily a job-based fraud crime. Money is often the target, but other forms of property also may be stolen directly or indirectly, using the alteration of business documents like checks, bills or records to hide theft. The conversion of company cars or electronic devices for personal use or gain can be considered embezzlement.

Prosecutors cannot obtain a conviction for embezzlement without evidence supporting every provision of the law. The defendant and the alleged white collar crime victim must have a fiduciary relationship, which generates a lawful acquisition of property. For example, a company willingly permits an employee to make cash transactions or pay company bills.

The government also must show the defendant took or transferred property. The intent to steal clearly must be established or the case falls apart.

Sometimes, cash drawer and accounting mistakes are simply the result of human error. A criminal defense attorney can challenge prosecutorial allegations with evidence company property was not misappropriated. To learn more about white collar crimes, visit our webpage on the subject.

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