Embezzlement is a serious crime and most often, it occurs in a business setting. It occurs when a person has lawful possession of another person’s property, then takes that property or converts it for his or her own use and does not intend to return it.
It may also include using, selling, damaging, permanently withholding and giving away property or money that belongs to someone else.
Generally, the person who is accused of embezzlement is a trusted employee, business partner or a contractor. These people have lawful access to the employer’s property or money and are tasked with using it for the employer’s best interest.
Embezzlement can occur in any business, however it commonly involves people in financial professions like banking, money management and office management and may include falsification of records or paychecks and fraudulent billing. Sometimes, an employer will accuse the person of taking small amounts of money or property over time instead of all at once.
Elements and defenses
In order to prove that the employee, business partner or contractor committed the crime, there are several elements the prosecution must demonstrate. These include showing that there was a fiduciary relationship between the parties, the accused acquired the property because of that relationship, he or she took the property or transferred it to another person and he or she had the intent to embezzle.
If the defendant did not have the intent to embezzle or the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property, that may be a defense to the embezzlement charge. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review the charges and provide advice.