Financial impropriety of any kind can lead to serious problems in criminal court, but your case may be especially complicated if you are accused of embezzling public funds or anything else you do not own and were entrusted with managing. Even a first-time offense of this nature is considered a felony in South Carolina, and you may end up facing substantial prison time depending on how much you allegedly took.
Defending your best interests in this type of scenario could be much easier with support from Greenville embezzlement lawyer Christopher L. Jones. Without a seasoned defense attorney on your side, you may have serious trouble avoiding the worst possible penalties that could be passed down following a conviction, let alone securing a favorable outcome. To learn more about what a winning attorney could do for you, reach out today.
Embezzlement Charges and Penalties in Greenville
Embezzlement of public funds is specifically addressed under South Carolina Code of Laws §16-13-210. It is unlawful for any person entrusted with transferring, disbursing, and/or retaining public funds to knowingly and intentionally redirect any amount of those funds into their own private ownership or otherwise act irresponsibly with them.
The penalties associated with a conviction for this offense vary with the amount allegedly embezzled. Someone convicted of embezzling less than $10,000 may face a maximum five-year prison sentence, while embezzlement of $10,000 or more is punishable by up to ten years behind bars.
A court may impose a monetary fine against someone convicted under either scenario “proportioned to the amount of the embezzlement.” Additionally, anyone convicted of embezzlement is disqualified from holding any public office in South Carolina unless the General Assembly votes with a two-thirds majority to overrule that ban once the defendant pays back the full amount of money they embezzled with interest. Greenville embezzlement attorney Christopher L. Jones could provide more information about how state law governs allegations of this nature during a free consultation.
Possible Defenses to Embezzlement Allegations
You cannot be convicted of embezzlement as defined under state law unless you knew you were misappropriating public funds—or other funds entrusted to you by a private entity—and did so with the express intent of personally benefiting from it. If you can prove that either of those core elements of embezzlement as a criminal charge do not apply to your case, you could be able to avoid conviction for this particular offense.
However, under S.C. Code §16-13-220, courts may infer that a person is guilty of embezzlement if they cannot produce evidence proving they accounted for the funds in question in accordance with state law, which means earnest mistakes could still lead to criminal prosecution in certain situations. Guidance from an embezzlement lawyer in Greenville is essential in cases like this. Christopher L. Jones has extensive experience in the courtroom as a former prosecutor and municipal judge, so he knows exactly what evidence to look for and how to build an airtight defense accordingly.
Get in Touch with a Greenville Embezzlement Attorney
Like most other “white-collar” crimes, embezzlement is taken very seriously by law enforcement authorities and punishable by lengthy prison sentences even though it is a non-violent offense. On top of that, embezzlement cases tend to be document-heavy, complex affairs, and facing one without seasoned legal representation is very often a recipe for disaster.
A capable Greenville embezzlement lawyer could be an irreplaceable ally from beginning to end of your legal proceedings. Call today to get started on your case.