Embezzlement Charges Dropped Against a Philadelphia Businessman
The manager of a high end Philadelphia restaurant was charged with embezzlement after ownership discovered missing funds from the business. Because the money could not be accounted for, the manager was arrested and accused of stealing the receipts. Embezzlement is a serious felony and a conviction on these charges would have been personally and professionally devastating. He needed to fight these charges and seek to have them dismissed, so the restaurant manager retained attorney Michael van der Veen to defend him.
When an individual is charged with a crime, it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that a crime has been committed and the defendant is the guilty party. Before a case even gets to trial, however, there is a procedural requirement in Pennsylvania that the Commonwealth conduct a preliminary hearing shortly after a defendant’s arrest.
The purpose of this hearing is to establish that there is enough basic evidence to advance the case to trial. The burden of proof required to hold a case for court at the preliminary hearing is very low, so the vast majority of cases move past this stage and proceed to trial. Although in some respects a formality, the preliminary hearing is also a useful tool that can expose weaknesses in the Commonwealth’s case and sometimes these weaknesses can lead to the dismissal of more serious charges. That is exactly what attorney van der Veen was able to accomplish in this case.
At the defendant’s preliminary hearing, van der Veen’s cross-examination of the Commonwealth’s witness and his concluding argument convinced the judge to dismiss the most serious felony charges faced by his client. This meant that the case would proceed to trial on only the remaining and less serious misdemeanor charges, a matter of great relief for van der Veen’s client.
At trial on the misdemeanor charges, van der Veen’s vigorous defense continued and he was able to expose the prosecution’s failure to establish the exact point in time the alleged funds went missing. Attorney van der Veen argued that if the prosecution could not prove the exact time the funds went missing, it was fundamentally impossible to convict his client of the crime. The judge agreed and van der Veen’s client was found NOT GUILTY of all charges.
One of Philadelphia’s foremost personal injury, criminal defense and commercial litigation law firms, van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin combine nearly a century of passion-driven comprehensive law practice and client-centered representation for the full benefit of their clients. Their experience fighting for clients, serving the community and excelling in litigation has earned them the reputation as one of Pennsylvania’s toughest, hardest-working law firms.