What Constitutes Embezzlement?

Posted January 25, 2018

Embezzlement usually occurs in a place of employment or in large corporations. It is when a person, who is in charge of assets, such as money or property, steals or misuses the assets for his or her own personal gain.

For instance, a store clerk or bank teller is in charge of money to make change or service customers. If they take money from their cash drawer without permission or a lawful transaction, it is embezzlement. A store clerk in a grocery mart who decides to use store products without paying for them is stealing products that are entrusted to him or her.

There are many different flavors of embezzlement. Accounting embezzlement is when someone who has authority over financial records manipulates the numbers for his or her own personal gain. They may transfer funds to an account they can access for their personal use. Simple embezzlement by theft could even be stealing money out of petty cash and writing false receipts.

Some embezzlers go to great lengths to cook up grand schemes where they can steal large amounts of money in one transaction. Others embezzle small amounts of money over a long period of time. This type of embezzlement is easier in a large corporation. Creative schemes such as fake billing, writing checks to fabricated employees or vendors and falsifying expense reports and other documents — these are types of embezzlement.

What does it take for a conviction?

  1. To prove a charge of embezzlement, the two parties involved must have a fiduciary relationship; in other words, the alleged embezzler must have been in a position of reliability to the other (such as employer/employee).
  2. The defendant must have obtained the money or property through the relationship described above.
  3. The defendant must have actually taken ownership of the property, even if he or she did so and then transferred it to someone else.
  4. It must be proven that the defendant’s actions were intentional.

Proving a charge of embezzlement is not cut and dried. Solid evidence is often hard to find. Anyone charged with a white collar crime such as this should find a good criminal defense lawyer. Even if it seems cut and dried, there may be plenty of room to build a good solid defense.

Source: FindLaw, “Embezzlement,” accessed Jan. 12, 2018