In Minnesota, embezzlement is a very specific charge that is distinct from employee theft. In fact, it’s actually covered in the state constitution.
Below, we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to know about embezzlement in Minnesota if you find yourself facing charges.
What Is Embezzlement in Minnesota?
The general definition of embezzlement is that it is a kind of fraud where one person misuses another person’s or entity’s financial property. The person who commits embezzlement normally has a job, position, or role that entitles them to lawful possession of the financial property. The offense occurs, however, when that person uses the financial property for personal gain rather than the intended use.
Things are a bit different in Minnesota. Here, as laid out in the state constitution, the crime of embezzlement is specific to stealing public funds.
If a person is in charge of state funds, he or she is required to uphold the following standards:
- Keep accurate records of received sums, payments and transfers
- Provide securities for funds to be paid or transferred
- Refrain from converting state funds for personal use, which includes deposits and loans
The law makes says that if a person fails to comply with these stipulations, he or she has committed embezzlement of public funds.
Penalties for Minnesota Embezzlement
The penalties for embezzlement in Minnesota are laid out according to the dollar amount of the embezzled funds. All are felony charges. Here is a breakdown:
Value $2,500 or less
The sentence is up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Value greater than $2,500
The sentence is up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, the defendant may also face charges of forgery, fraud, or identity theft.
Defenses to Embezzlement Charges in Minnesota
If you are facing embezzlement charges, a knowledgeable Minnesota criminal attorney can help you fight back. Your lawyer may use these defense strategies to get your charges reduced or dropped.
Lack of Evidence
The prosecution will need a large amount of clear evidence to prove the charges. If the prosecuting attorney cannot find enough evidence to support the charges, your case could be dismissed.
You may be able to use duress as your defensive strategy if someone was threatening you with harm unless you embezzled the funds. Check with your attorney to know if this defense applies in your case.
In rare cases, government officials may coerce someone to embezzle funds that they otherwise would not have taken. If you have a strong argument that this occurred, this defense may work for you.
Lack of Intent
If you made an honest mistake by transferring funds into the wrong account or writing your name and account information on a deposit slip, you may be able to use this defense.
If you tried to repay the funds that were embezzled, the judge may grant a reduced sentence depending on the circumstances of the case.
If you can prove that you were mentally incapacitated when the offense occurred, you may receive a reduced sentence or possibly even have your case dismissed.
Facing Minnesota Embezzlement Charges?
Embezzlement is a serious crime in Minnesota. If you are facing these charges, you need the help of an experienced lawyer.
He or she will understand the nuances of the law and what you are up against, and provide you with the best chance of receiving a positive outcome.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.