Defending Against Charges of Misappropriating Funds

If you get charged with misappropriating funds, your first call should be to a Washington white collar crimes attorney. Some defense strategies work better early on in a case. This blog will cover the issue of defending against charges of misappropriating funds.

Defenses to Charges of Misappropriating Funds

Whether you get charged with a state or federal offense of misappropriation of funds, you will want to mount an aggressive defense against the charges. Here are some of the common defenses against these charges:

  • Illegal search and seizure. We could file a motion to suppress evidence that got obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement was supposed to have a search warrant, but they did not have one, or the warrant was defective, we can ask the judge not to allow the evidence to be used against you at trial. 
  • Weak or incomplete case against you. Sometimes, the prosecutor bluffs. They might have evidence to prove most of the elements of the offensive misappropriating funds but lack sufficient proof of one or more of the other requirements for a conviction. They might hope to reach a plea agreement with you or cross their fingers and hope that they will discover evidence during the case. Often, a case becomes incomplete after improperly obtained evidence gets excluded or suppressed.
  • Entrapment. This defense argues that law enforcement coerced you into committing the offense and that you would never have engaged in the activity otherwise. 
  • Wrong person. With this defense, you only got accused because of a mistake about your identity or because someone wrongfully accused you.
  • Intent. You did not intentionally misappropriate the funds.
  • Good faith belief. It was reasonable for you to believe that you were the rightful owner of the funds. 
  • Duress. Someone forced you through violence, the threat of violence, or restraint to misappropriate the funds. 

After we talk to you and investigate your situation, we might have additional defenses that could get used in your case.

The Charge of Misappropriation

The offense of misappropriation is similar to but not exactly the same as embezzlement. Often, an individual gets charged with both misappropriation and embezzlement. Here are the elements of misappropriation:

  • The owner of the money entrusted it to the defendant, which act gave the defendant some possession and control, but not ownership of the funds. 
  • The defendant misappropriated the funds intentionally and knowing that they did not own the funds.
  • The defendant used the funds for personal purposes, rather than for the benefit of the rightful owner. Transferring money out of the rightful owner’s account into the defendant’s account would be an example of using the funds, even if the defendant did not actually spend the money. Refusing to return the money to the owner upon demand also counts as the defendant using the funds for their own personal purposes. 

The prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, every element of misappropriation before the defendant can get convicted of the offense. Penalties can include having to pay restitution to the victim, imprisonment or jail time, fines, and probation.

You can talk with a Washington criminal defense attorney about protecting your legal rights and representing you in your misappropriation case. Reach out to our office today for help with your case.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.