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What is embezzlement?

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2019 | federal offenses | 0 comments

You may have heard about people facing charges of embezzlement in the Texas news. This is a charge that can occur in many different settings. It also is one that people from all walks of life may commit. The basis of embezzlement, as the U.S. Department of Justice defines it, is when you misuse property entrusted to you by the owner.

The vital part of that definition is that you got the property legally by the owner giving it to you. The criminal act only occurred after you took authority over the property. This is critical because it distinguishes this from other similar financial crimes.

To successfully convict you of embezzlement, the prosecution must prove four elements. The first is that you acted with an intent to take the property away from the owner. Second, you took over the care of the property as part of your employment. Third, you and the owner had an agreement or relationship where there was trust or fiduciary duty. The last element is that what you did with the property was only for your benefit.

To break this down, for example, if your boss entrusted you to deposit the cash from the days business in the bank, the situation now meets the third and second elements. If you then took the money and spent it on your personal needs instead of depositing it, that would then make the situation meet the first and last elements. You not only spent the money for only your benefit but you also took it from your boss and the company.

One note about this is that even if you meant to pay back the money, it is still embezzlement. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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