In almost every Michigan Embezzlement case, a Police Detective first contacts the person who is ultimately charged before any charges are ever brought. In my role as a Criminal Defense Lawyer, I am frequently contacted right after someone receives their first call from the Police. Nervous, and wondering what to do (as well as what not to do), they find my website section about Embezzlement or my various articles on the subject. They read a little, then, they call my Office.
If you’ve been contacted by the Police, then you know that sinking feeling. If you’ve actually talked with a Detective, you likely hung up the phone scared out of your wits, and knowing you need help. I hate anything that sounds like scare tactics, but it’s just a fact that if you are facing a potential Embezzlement charge, you need competent and specialized legal protection. I provide that.
I really can’t remember when or why Embezzlement cases became such a mainstay of my Criminal Practice, but in the last number of years, I’ve handled countless such cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. It seems that I have a certain aptitude and skill in handling these cases, and those qualities are repeatedly honed by frequent experience handling them. And for all of that, I rather like these cases…
Part of this, I think, has to do with my attitude and disposition toward my Clients. I’ve seen Embezzlement cases of every kind and stripe, from the simple to the complex. I’ve handled cases where a “little” bit of money didn’t make it into the employer’s deposit, until it added up to a substantial amount, to situations where goods or services were sent, or payments were made, to fictional persons or companies. In fact, if you can imagine it, I’ve probably seen it. Whatever else, a person dealing with an Embezzlement case needs to have a Lawyer who is non-judgmental and works to make things better for them.
In order to make things better, however, I have to assume the role of a diplomat. Many of the cases I handle are pretty clear-cut, and the evidence against my Client is pretty strong. In these cases, I have to be able to work with the Prosecutor and the Detective in charge of the case, and, most importantly, with the Judge, in order to make things materially better for my Client. And make no mistake about it, “better” means no Jail.
In other cases, a vindictive former employer may be driving the charge against a person, or, if there’s anything to the charge, at least ratcheting up the amount of money involved. This can be tricky. A person may be on the hook for “X” amount of money. Yet when the former employer, who, in an embezzlement case, is called the “victim,” claims losses more than that, the sympathy factor for the Defendant is pretty low, and he or she has a hard time being heard. Nobody is really worried that the “bad guy” (or gal) is being overcharged, legally or financially. Except me; I am.
I have to make things better. I have to protect my Client. If you’re my Client, that means I have to protect you. I can expertly walk that fine line between being cooperative, and being aggressive. Strength is sometimes measured in silence, and other times it’s measured by standing firm on a matter of principle.
That starts when you get your first call from the Police. If I’m hired, I take over right away. There is absolutely nothing you can tell the Police that is going to help you.
By the time the Police call, they’ve done their homework. In many cases, and with bigger companies, someone else may have done it for them. Investigators, Loss Prevention Specialists, Auditors, or other individuals with innumerable titles are commonly called in to start checking things out once suspicions arise. They often do the legwork, and frequently make contact with the person long before the Police ever get involved. I could write a thousand pages about the different scenarios I’ve seen, but the bottom line is that once these people from “higher up” start coming around, the person they’re focusing on is either gone (as in “fired”), or will be gone in short order.
It is not uncommon for someone to speak with these “higher ups” out of a sense of fear, or obligation. Legally speaking, they have no Police power. The worst thing they can do is fire a person, and by the time they’re sniffing around someone, it’s only a matter of time for that, anyway. They will often imply that they will “bring charges” or will otherwise make things bad for the person unless they cooperate. In truth, the ONLY thing they can do is contact the Police. If you have anything whatsoever to worry about, then “cooperating” means noting more (and nothing less) than helping them go after you.
So what do you do?
You keep your mouth closed. Think about it: In the history of high profile Criminal cases, there has NEVER been a Lawyer who has ever advised his or her Client to do anything but remain silent. The truth is that lots of have people have paid huge money for this priceless bit of legal advice: Shut up.
If the Loss Prevention person comes around, keep quiet. If he or she threatens that you’ll be fired unless you cooperate, and you have anything to worry about, then it’s time for a quick reality check; you’ll be looking for a new job soon, anyway. I know that may sound cold, but anyone in this situation already knows that. If there is a loss, and it’s traceable, in some way, to you, and now the employer is looking into it, what do you really think is going to happen?
If you’re squeaky clean, and have nothing to hide, the same advice still applies.
When the Police Detective calls, he or she will almost always make a very predictable mistake when they talk to you, or leave a message for you. They’ll say that if you don’t come in, or call them back, or whatever, they’ll “get a Warrant.” Stop for a moment and think about that. You’ve just been told that unless you make return contact, the Police are going to get a Warrant charging you with Embezzlement, or something like it. This means, then, that without your talking to them, they are confident that have enough information to charge you. And make no mistake, they will…
The Police are not calling you to clear your good name. Even if you don’t admit to doing anything “wrong,” the Detective will confirm things like you were at the workplace, or had access to the money, or the merchandise, or signed the checks, or whatever. This helps build the case against you; it does not help clear you. Here’s that bottom line again: Keep your mouth closed.
This is where I come in. I speak with the Detective for you. I don’t even have to explain that you won’t be talking; that’s a given when I call. Instead of being a jerk, though, I explain the Detective that we’ll cooperate through the legal process, so that there is no getting “locked up.” I make arrangements to present you so that you’re not detained. The Detective understands. If he had a brother in another state, and that brother called about his son (the Detective’s nephew) and explained that some Detective had called and wanted little Jimmy to come in, or to call him back, and he asked “what should I do” what do you think the Detective-brother would say? Do you think he’s say “Gee, Phil, I think you should take little Jimmy right down to the Police Station so he can write out a statement”? Absolutely not.
Instead, he’d say “Listen Phil, first get a good Lawyer, and let him or her handle it. Do not, under any conditions, let that kid say anything. All he can do is talk himself into more hot water, so tell him to shut up and not say anything to anybody.”
That’s how that would play out. Interestingly, most Embezzlement Clients instinctively understand this. Sometimes, they need to hear it, or read it, but doing so only confirms what they already know.
In terms of how an Embezzlement case plays out, much has to do with how much money is involved, and where the case is brought. Even in the worst cases, I can do a lot to minimize the consequences. Embezzlement cases are very different than things like Drug Delivery cases, or Murder cases, or things like that. In fact, a person accused of taking more than a half of a million dollars will still be treated much differently than a person pulled over and found with $10 worth of cocaine on them. This difference is obvious right from the start.
Police Detectives don’t call suspected Murderers. They don’t leave messages for people who they suspect may have a small amount of narcotics on them. Those people are handcuffed and whisked away to Jail. At every phase, an Embezzlement case is handled differently than almost any other kind of Criminal charge.
The key thing in an Embezzlement case is to protect your Criminal Record and your future, and the best person to do that is someone who has extensive experience doing just that, like me. If I become your Lawyer, I will protect you and your interests, and I will make sure that we produce the best outcome and results possible in the circumstances of your case.
If you’re contacted by anyone regarding a potential Embezzlement case, exercise your right to remain silent. Keep your mouth closed. When you need to hire a Lawyer, and you want the highest caliber of legal representation backed by over two decades of experience in this field, give me a call.