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St. Petersburg White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers

Defense from Fraud & Embezzlement Charges

White collar crime may appear deceptively innocent to the average corporate employee or executive. It might continue unnoticed for years, and even if it is discovered by the company, identifying all of the individuals involved is an educated guess at best. Disproving their intent to steal from or defraud their employer is even more challenging because in some cases, intent may be established through inference or evidence of a person's knowledge of a plan to embezzle or defraud the employer.

If you have been accused of fraud or another white collar crime in St. Petersburg, the white collar criminal defense attorneys at Fleming Law Group are here to help. Prosecutors perform rigorous investigations into these cases, we protect our clients by investigating just as fervently into evidence that protects their innocence.

Call (727) 202-4858 to schedule a free consultation at Fleming Law Group today.

Elements of White Collar Fraud and Embezzlement

In general, the term “white collar crime” refers to unlawful acts, the most common of which are fraud and embezzlement committed by corporate executives and other professional workers. White collar fraud is divided into three primary categories:

  • Mail – Any form of fraud that takes uses the mail service to commit the crime. This may include tricking people into sending money to a phony charity or asking someone to send personal financial information by mail in order to obtain money.
  • Bank – Any crime that involves using fraud to obtain money from a financial institution. Forging a check would be an example.
  • Wire – Using telecommunications (phone, email, and other electronics) to solicit money or financial information using misleading information.

Such cases are typically held in federal court because they affect interstate commerce. In general, the burden is on the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knowingly or intentionally participated in a scheme to defraud another of money or property.

Embezzlement cases may be held in state or federal court. Under Florida law, embezzlement is considered theft, which involves knowingly obtaining or using the property of another with intent to deprive the other person of a right to the property.

Mens Rea: The Critical Component

The crux of a white collar case is the issue of intent or mens rea. In order to avoid a fraud or embezzlement conviction, the criminal defense lawyer must convince the jury that the defendant did not intend to divert funds or other property improperly. Often, this is a difficult hurdle to overcome, particularly where in some cases, intent may be inferred by circumstantial evidence or by evidence of the defendant's knowledge that the acts were unlawful. As such, a forensic accountant is extremely beneficial to the defense in casting reasonable doubt on intent.

Role of the Forensic Accounting Expert

Over the past few years, the use of forensic accountants in white collar cases has increased significantly. Today's accounting experts are challenging traditional methods of proving or disproving intent in white collar cases. Although financial records alone cannot reveal what was in someone's mind, the accountant's inquiry extends far beyond a mere review of financial spreadsheets. For example, a good accounting expert uses digital forensics to scrutinize all office and mobile phone records as well as relevant computer files, including:

  • E-mail
  • Instant messages
  • Websites visited
  • Electronic documents

Even if such files have been deleted, a savvy expert will have the tools to recover them as well as search through meta-tags and backup files.

An experienced and skilled forensic accountant is particularly valuable to the defense in casting reasonable doubt on the issue of intent. Even if a defendant is found guilty of a white collar crime, a forensic accountant may still be useful in helping uncover other perpetrators, giving the defense attorney the opportunity to negotiate a reduced sentence in exchange for the defendant's information about co-conspirators.

Combining Accounting With Legal Prowess

Establishing reasonable doubt on the issue of intent is no small feat in white collar fraud or embezzlement cases, especially where the government can prove intent through inference or circumstantial evidence. Our white collar criminal defense lawyers in St. Petersburg retain the services of skilled, trustworthy forensic accountants to uncover the truth behind these accusations. By combining the accountant’s findings with our legal skills, we can aggressively fight for an outcome that will benefit our clients.

Call (727) 202-4858 to schedule your free consultation today.

Why Choose Fleming Law Group?

  • 24/7 Accessibility

    There is always an attorney in the office and there is no time that we cannot be reached. We are always available via email or phone at
    any time.

  • Honest Guidance

    Our attorneys are not out for their best interest, but for yours. Our clients receive personalized care that is focused solely on them and their unique case.

  • Unique Backgrounds

    As former prosecutors, both Attorneys Fleming and Bettker have unique perspective in the courtroom and stay one step ahead of
    the opposition.

  • Decades of Experience

    Our attorneys have more than 40 decades of combined experience. Over the years, we have gained a renown in our field for our results and care for our clients.

“Mr. Fleming got me an incredible result for my case. I have worked with many other lawyers in the past and thought he represented me the best. He also stays in touch with me since my troubles to make sure everything is ok. He also has a great people working with him. They are always so nice to me when I call and I get return calls right away.”

- Kip
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