Can You Get Criminal Charges For Breach Of Fiduciary Duty?
If you have a fiduciary duty to someone, you probably know it, even if you have never heard the word “fiduciary.” Fiduciary duty is a legal responsibility not to mishandle someone else’s money, and the duty applies when you have access to someone else’s money in a formal capacity. If your job requires you to handle money, then you have a fiduciary duty toward your employer, whether you are a cashier or a vice president of a company. If you work at a bank, you have a fiduciary duty toward your customers. Likewise, if you have signed a power of attorney that enables you to make financial transactions on behalf of a family member or client, then you have a fiduciary duty toward the person who granted you power of attorney. Abusing your access to someone else’s money is called breach of fiduciary duty. If you breach your fiduciary duty, not only can the lawful owner of the money sue you, but in some cases, you can also face criminal charges. If you are being accused of a financial crime against someone to whom you have a fiduciary duty, contact a West Palm Beach white collar crime lawyer.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty Can Be a Financial Crime
When a fiduciary intentionally causes someone to whom they have a fiduciary duty to suffer financial losses, the harmed party may sue the fiduciary in civil court in order to recover the money they lost as a result of the fiduciary’s actions. In some cases, the fiduciary can be charged with a financial crime. While Florida law does not list a crime called “breach of fiduciary duty,” these are some of the charges that can apply:
- Embezzlement – if you steal money from your employer
- Forgery- if you issue checks in someone else’s name without the person’s permission
- Wire fraud – if you make false or misleading statements online to a person to whom you have a fiduciary duty in order to get the person to authorize you to make a transaction
Criminal Penalties for Financial Abuse of Elderly People
Florida law has specifically criminalized fraud or financial exploitation against elderly people and against adults with disabilities. If the amount of money the person loses is less than $10,000, then the maximum penalty is five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. If the financial losses are between $10,000 and $50,000, then the maximum penalty is 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. If the amount of financial losses the person incurs is more than $50,000, then the maximum penalty is 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Attorney William Wallshein has more than 39 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County. Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.