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Defenses to embezzlement allegations in Iowa

Embezzlement generally means the theft of money by a person entrusted to handle it. Embezzlement cases often involve employees accused of stealing from their employers. In these cases, the employee is typically someone with access to company cash and bank accounts, such as a bookkeeper, accountant or cashier.

In Iowa, embezzlement is charged under the theft statute. The severity of the charge and the sentence will depend on the amount of money involved. If the amount is over $10,000, the defendant can be charged with first degree theft, a Class C felony. In Iowa, Class C felony charges are punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine from $1,000 to $10,000. If the amount involved is between $1,000 and $10,000, the charge will be second degree theft, a Class D felony, and the sentence can be a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine between $750 and $7,500.

A theft of between $500 and $1,000 is third degree theft; between $200 and $500 is fourth degree theft, and less than $200 is fifth degree theft. These charges are, respectively, aggravated, serious and simple misdemeanors that can still result in jail time, fines or both. In addition to these penalties, in any theft case a person who is convicted can be ordered to pay restitution of the amount allegedly stolen.

A person accused of embezzlement in Iowa has a number of possible defenses. In some cases, the person charged had a good faith basis to believe they were entitled to use the money. Sometimes embezzlement occurred, but the wrong person was charged. It may be that the person charged was falsely accused by another employee. As in any criminal case, the defendant can fight the charges by pointing out inconsistencies and weaknesses in the prosecution's case.

Source: Iowa Code ยง 714.2, accessed May 1, 2016

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