When you’re facing embezzlement charges, you remain guilty until proven guilty. So, the state has the burden of proving you’re guilty of the crime. On your part, you have the difficult task of presenting defenses that sufficiently prove your innocence to obtain an acquittal.

The best way to fight embezzlement charges is to enlist the help of a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia. An experienced lawyer can help reduce the charges to protect your rights, livelihood, reputation, and freedom.

How is Embezzlement Prosecuted in Philadelphia, PA?

Embezzlement can be prosecuted as criminal or civil fraud. When brought as a criminal charge, the prosecution must show proof of these four factors:

  • A fiduciary relationship between the two parties. In other words, there must be reliance on one party by the other
  • The accused must have acquired the embezzled property through this relationship
  • The accused must have taken ownership of the property as their own or transferred it to someone else
  • The accused acted intentionally.

Every accusation of embezzlement is unique, and every defense will be tailored to the specific situation. A successful defense requires that you dispute the above elements in your case. Having a Philadelphia white-collar crimes lawyer representing you in your case can enhance the chances of having the charges reduced or dropped.

What are the Penalties for Embezzlement in Pennsylvania?

Embezzlement in Philadelphia is a misdemeanor if it involves small amounts of money and a felony when large amounts are involved. Under Pennsylvania law, 19 Pa. Const. Stat. Section 3927, the embezzlement penalties vary depending on the amount of money involved and the resulting consequences.

The penalties are as follows:

  • Less than $50: Up to 1 year in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500
  • $50-$200: Up to 2 years in prison and a fine of not more than $5,000
  • $200 but not more than $2,000: Up to 5 years in jail and a fine of not more than $10,000
  • $2,000 or more: Up to 7 years in prison and a fine of not more than $15,000
  • For properties worth $500,000, the crime is a first-degree felony that attracts a penalty of not more than 20 years in jail and a fine of not more than $25,000.

A conviction can significantly impact your future, whether an embezzlement charge is a misdemeanor or felony. That’s why it’s crucial to build a strong legal defense with the help of a white-collar crimes lawyer in Philadelphia.

How Can I Defend Myself Against an Embezzlement Charge?

You can successfully challenge embezzlement charges if you know the strategies to employ. You don’t have to take the charges or plead guilty. However, the potential defenses you can use will depend on the specifics of your case and include the following:

Insufficient Evidence

About 40% of embezzlement charges are dropped based on insufficient evidence. You could use this as a defense strategy if your case lacks a paper trail, but you’ll only succeed if the jury finds you innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. It also works well if the investigators are unable to prove their case.

Return of the Property

You could use that as your defense if you repaid the embezzled funds. You may receive a reduction in your sentencing depending on the severity and length of your case. However, repayment may not have the charges dropped altogether.

Incapacity or Insanity

Your criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania can help prove that you were mentally incapacitated or insane when the crime occurred. However, you’ll have an easier time pleading incapacity than insanity. An example of mental incapacitation would be being heavily medicated during the transactions.

Plea of Nolo Contendere

With a Plea of Nolo Contendere, you have the option to plead neither guilty nor innocent. It’s up to the court to establish the truth by analyzing and carefully evaluating the defense’s evidence. You may only enter this plea with permission from the court.

Expiration of the Statues of Limitations

If the prosecution failed to initiate the proceedings within the period of limitation, you could use that as your defense.

Absence of Intent

An embezzlement charge can be grounded on the intent to commit a crime. Together with your white-collar crimes attorney in Philadelphia, you can show that you thought you were the actual owner of the allegedly embezzled property. If you successfully use this defense, you may have the charges dropped or reduced.


The government may coerce an innocent person to embezzle funds they would not have taken out of their free will. If you use this defense, be prepared to face an aggressive prosecution that will likely say you’d still have committed the crime regardless of the pressure you may have encountered.


You could use duress as your defense if you genuinely believed that you were at risk of significant loss or harm if you didn’t embezzle the funds. This defense may work if you risk losing your job for refusing to misappropriate the funds.

You could be walking on a fine line with some of these defenses. As an example, ignorance of the law isn’t a valid defense. So, it’s essential to distinguish between the absence of intent and ignorance of the law. Ensure you speak to your Philadelphia criminal defense attorney, discuss the possible defenses, and determine the best for your case.

Protect Your Reputation and Freedom with Skilled Legal Representation

Embezzlement is a serious charge in Philadelphia, and you should avoid talking to embezzlement investigators without a defense lawyer present. Investigators are trained in their investigation techniques and can intimidate you into saying things contrary to what you should as you try to defend yourself.

You need the help of our experienced Philadelphia white-collar crimes attorney to help you fight the charges. We will guide you through the process and advise you on the defense strategy most likely to help you win the case, depending on the specific circumstances. Don’t face the prosecution alone. Call us today to get started.