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Embezzlement Trials

Pretrial procedures may be adopted before the start of a trial for embezzlement.  An accused will be called to answer a charge against him/her before evidence is provided.  Whether a preliminary hearing is required or not will be decided by the court according to the applicable statutes[i].

A trial court has discretion to order a responsible official of the court to include certain persons in a panel of jurors[ii].  The jurors are selected after ensuring that they are not prejudiced against a defendant or the charged offense.  Prospective jurors may or may not be questioned by parties or judges.

Generally, the prosecution of an offense relating to embezzlement will be held in the county in which the offense was committed and in a court which has jurisdiction to preside over the case.  There must be proof that the offense occurred in the county in which the case is being prosecuted.  It is not necessary to prove it by direct evidence.  The fact may be inferred from evidence and surrounding circumstances[iii].

The courts in all the places where the different acts of the commission of an offense of embezzlement took place have jurisdiction to try the case.  Thus, the venue may be where a plan to embezzle was designed or where the property was fraudulently converted.  It may also be the place where an accused had to account for the assets entrusted to him/her.  If a crime was committed partly in one county and partly in another, both the county courts have jurisdiction over the matter.  An accused may request a change in venue on the ground that a fair and impartial hearing may not be possible in a particular county.

It is the court’s discretion to accept or reject an application for continuance by a defendant.  If it is not proved that a defendant is not physically or mentally ill and a continuance is not required, a court may deny continuance of the trial[iv].  If an accused is suffering from a physical condition that would seriously endanger his/her health, or if his/her illness or disability might impair effective participation in his defense, s/he is entitled to a continuance[v].

A finding of fact must be made by a jury in a trial by jury[vi].  A jury should be properly instructed on the elements of the crime of embezzlement and all other aspects relating to the prosecution of the case.  The applicable law will have to be conveyed to the jury.  Indirect and circumstantial evidence may be necessary in establishing an offense.  The question of guilt or innocence is to be decided by the jury.  A jury may reasonably infer guilt from direct or indirect evidence.  Intent may be inferred from the conduct of an accused before and after the commission of a crime[vii].  A jury may agree upon a verdict in a few minutes.  There is no legal requirement that the jury should deliberate for a particular period of time[viii].

[i] State v. Franklin, 194 Neb. 630 (Neb. 1975)

[ii] Begeman v. Smith, 94 Ind. App. 513, 1927 Ind. App. LEXIS 315

[iii] Commonwealth v. Cheeks, 698 S.W.2d 832 (Ky. 1985)

[iv] Shetsky v. State, 290 P.2d 149, 1955 Okla. Crim. App. LEXIS 269

[v] State v. Meredith, 400 So. 2d 580, 1981 La. LEXIS 8390

[vi] Horning v. District of Columbia, 48 App. D.C. 380 (D.C. Cir. 1919)

[vii] Baker v. Commonwealth, 307 S.W.2d 773 (Ky. 1957)

[viii] State v. Boulet, 5 Wn.2d 654 (Wash. 1940)

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