In our last post, we began looking at a case in which a Wisconsin woman has been charged with embezzling nearly $100,000 during her employment at an Oak Creek Lutheran Church. Earlier this month, she pleaded not guilty to the embezzlement charges. As we said last time, there are a variety of reasons why a defendant might choose to plead not guilty in a criminal case.
One obvious reason is that the defendant denies that he or she is guilty of a criminal offense. In such cases, the defendant works to build a case that prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to justify conviction on the charges. In the case of embezzlement, a lack of documentation that there was any theft, lack of opportunity to access company funds, the possibility of other individuals having stolen the funds in question, and other factors become important in such cases.
In many embezzlement cases, a not guilty plea is not so much about denying all liability, but about denying the accuracy of charges. A defendant, in other words, is not necessarily denying all guilt for missing funds, but the sufficiency of the state’s evidence, particularly with respect to the amount of stolen funds. Inaccuracy of criminal charges is no small matter in embezzlement cases, since the outcome of such cases depends on the amount of theft involved. In cases where the state has significant evidence of superstition, disputing the accuracy of the amount stolen can, therefore, become an important issue in an embezzlement case.
Each criminal case has its own unique facts and issues, but the goal in any criminal case is to do everything possible to protect a criminal defendant’s rights and to hold the state to its full burden of proof. Skillful, zealous advocacy can go a long way toward minimizing the consequences for a defendant in an embezzlement case, or in any criminal case, for that matter.
Oak Creek Patch, “Oak Creek Woman Accused of Embezzling Almost $100,000 from Grace Church,” Scott Anderson, Sep. 15, 2016.
Fox 6 Now, “Accused of stealing from church: Oak Creek woman pleads not guilty to felony charge,” Oct. 13, 2016.