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Embezzlement Charges in Michigan

By Daniel T. Geherin

A store employee is fired for allegedly taking $50 out of the cash register.  A high-level business executive is alleged to have “skimmed” from his company for years, to the tune of $800,000.00.  A volunteer for a youth baseball/softball league is suspected of taking thousands of dollars from the fundraising coffers. 

These are all examples of Embezzlement cases that Dan Geherin, owner of the Geherin Law Group PLLC in Ann Arbor, has either prosecuted or defended in his 20+year career.  As a former prosecutor, Dan prosecuted complicated white-collar offenses while assigned to the anti-fraud unit.   As a board-certified criminal defense attorney, Dan has defended hundreds of Embezzlement allegations, from the highest-profile media cases to the lower-level (yet consequential) misdemeanor retail fraud offenses. 

Every day, Dan answers calls from people facing allegations of Embezzlement/Fraud, many of whom ask the same questions:

“What is Embezzlement?  What must be proven?”

“Is Embezzlement a State, or Federal Charge?  Is it a misdemeanor, or a felony?”

“How do I prove my innocence if I didn’t commit this offense”

“Will I go to jail/prison if I’m guilty and can’t pay back the money?”

“If I pay back the money, will the whole criminal charge simply go away?”

In Michigan, Embezzlement is generally defined as the taking/converting of property/goods/money that he/she was entrusted, and with the specific intent to deprive the owner.   So, there is an element of trust baked into the allegations.  Said another way, if a person takes from a stranger or a building or a home, those are distinct, separate theft offenses but not Embezzlement.  Only if the person had an “agency of trust” might an Embezzlement charge be proper.

Most Embezzlement charges are brought at the State, and not Federal, level.  Embezzlement charges range from a 93-day maximum misdemeanor offense to a 20-year maximum felony offense.  What explains the wide difference in charges?  Two factors:  Value of alleged taking, and prior Embezzlement conviction(s) (if applicable).  So, the store employee who takes $50 out of register is looking at a misdemeanor, while the executive who skims thousands will be facing felony charges (many of which carry mandatory prison sentences).

Unfortunately, these charges are often levied by a disgruntled employer or business partner without sufficient proof.  Likewise, people are often accused of Embezzlement when in reality a faulty accounting system is at play.  So, for people facing these reputation-altering allegations, the best option is to consult with an experienced, aggressive, intelligent criminal defense attorney with a history of successfully defending these allegations.  And, for people who are guilty, they may need the skilled hand of an attorney to negotiate a favorable outcome short of a felony conviction and long-term incarceration.  After all, Embezzlement charges are criminal, not civil, and they are brought by the State (not an individual or company).  So, with guilty or innocence, those faced with the scary prospect of an Embezzlement charge need a dedicated, experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney such as Dan Geherin and his team at GLGMichigan. 

If you are being investigated or charged with Embezzlement in Washtenaw County or throughout Southeastern Michigan, please contact Dan Geherin, a criminal defense attorney in Ann Arbor immediately.  We’re available 24/7, and we will help put you at ease, form a plan to handle your case, and fight aggressively to restore your reputation and protect your freedom.  Schedule online at GLGMichigan, or call 24/7 (734) 263-2780.   

GLG Michigan:  Defending embezzlement, fraud and other white-collar allegations throughout Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and Southeastern Michigan.