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Aggressive Embezzlement Attorney in the Greater Chicago Metro Area

A charge of embezzlement in Illinois is serious. A defense requires an experienced white collar crime attorney in the Chicago metropolitan area because prosecutors in Cook County and Dupage County will use all their resources and legal know-how to convict you of the crime.

At Dolci & Weiland, our white collar crime attorneys investigate and develop strategic defenses that hold the State of Illinois accountable to the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Contact us to learn more about our criminal defense approach and how we may be able to help you.

What Constitutes the Crime of Embezzlement in Illinois?

Embezzlement is a white collar crime and is charged under the theft statute at 720 ILCS 5/16-1. The crime occurs when a person is entrusted with someone else's money or property but then that person misappropriates the money or property to benefit him or herself.

Embezzlement is more than stealing another person's money or property because the latter is charged as simple theft or larceny. Embezzlement involves an additional criteria: fiduciary relationship. You must have had a fiduciary relationship with the alleged victim.

What Must a Cook County or Dupage County Prosecutor Prove in Embezzlement Cases?

Embezzlement cases can be complex cases. There are certain elements of the crime that must be proven in order to convict you, and these are:

  1. fiduciary relationship between the alleged embezzler and the alleged victim existed;
  2. The alleged offender obtain the money or property via the fiduciary relationship;
  3. The alleged offender either gave the property to another person or entity or took ownership of it him or herself for personal gain; and
  4. The alleged offender intentionally converted the money or property for his or her own personal gain.

To better understand how a prosecutor proves embezzlement, some aspects of these elements should be better understood and, as such, are described below.

Fiduciary Relationship

A fiduciary relationship is not an ordinary relationship nor is it necessarily a work relationship. A fiduciary relationship is one where one person holds a position of trust, confidence, or reliance with the principal person, and through this position, a fiduciary relationship is developed between the two parties. 

A fiduciary relationship is breached when the person holding the position of trust benefits him or herself at the expense of the principal.


There is a misconception that embezzlement only involves money. Property, however, can be tangible or intangible:

  • Tangible property includes things like, cars, equipment, and jewelry.
  • Intangible property includes things like stocks, bonds, and money.


Intentional is a state of mind, and embezzlement is a state of mind crime. The alleged offender must have committed an act fully knowing what he or she was doing. If the alleged offender had no idea of what he or she was doing or committed an act by mistake, then the requisite mental state is absent. 

What are the Penalties if Convicted of Embezzlement in Illinois?

The penalties for an embezzlement conviction in Illinois depend on two basic factors:

  1. the value of the misappropriated property; and
  2. the person or entity from whom the property was stolen.

The below chart identifies the possible range of criminal penalties associated with the value of the embezzled property.

Value of the Property

Classification of the Crime



less than $500
(but not from a person)

Class A misdemeanor

up to one year

up to $2,500

less than $500
(from a person)

Class 3 felony

2-5 years

up to $25,000

$500 - $10,000

Class 3 felony

2-5 years

up to $25,000

$10,001 - $100,000

Class 2 felony

3-7 years

up to $25,00

$100,001 - $500,000

Class 1 felony

6-30 years

up to $25,000

$500,001 - $999,999

Class 1 non-probational felony

4-15 years

up to $25,000

$1 million or more

Class X felony

6-30 years

up to $25,000

As mentioned, however, the penalties also depend on who the victim is. If the victim is the government, a place of worship, or a school, then the charges are enhanced to the next class.

For example, if you allegedly embezzled $5,000 from the church where you volunteer, the crime could have been charged as a Class 2 felony, but because the property stolen is from a church, you will be charged with a Class 1 felony, which imposes twice the amount of minimum prison time (i.e., three years versus six years minimum prison sentence).  

Sentencing may also be increased if the alleged victim is a person who is 60 years or older.

Additionally, in most embezzlement cases, if you are convicted, you will be ordered to pay restitution.

Are there Defenses to an Illinois Embezzlement Allegation?

Defenses to an Illinois embezzlement allegation are not many. Often what's important about a defense is the strategy and its implementation. 

Possible Defenses

  • Mistaken identity – the investigators may have gotten it wrong and identified you as the embezzler when it is really someone else
  • Mistake of fact – the investigators may have gotten their facts wrong and, as such, the alleged crime may not fit within the definition of embezzlement
  • Absence of Intent – you may not have intended or otherwise known that the act you committed was unlawful because you may have honestly thought you had a right to the property

Defense Strategy

A defense strategy will incorporate any possible defense. It also includes investigating the case, negotiating with the prosecutor, filing pre-trial motions, challenging the evidence and any witnesses, impeaching witnesses, influencing a jury, and other techniques to create doubt and to either get the charges reduced or dismissed or to win an acquittal at trial.

Contact an Aggressive, Smart Embezzlement Attorney in the Greater Chicago Metro Area Today

When embezzlement charges are pending, it is important to speak to a white collar crime attorney who has the skill and knowledge to defend your case. As it is, these cases often turn on the small details. At Dolci & Weiland, we want you to get the best defense possible and will not leave any small detail behind.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the crime, your options, and our defense strategies.