Embezzlement is a legal term used to describe employee theft. In other words, it's the illegal act on the part of an employee who misappropriates money that was entrusted to his or her care by another person. Embezzlement is usually carried out by an employee, but it could also be committed by anyone entrusted with the care of money on behalf of another person.
Sometimes embezzlement is prosecuted as a criminal matter, and the penalties of conviction could result in the employee being sentenced to prison. In other cases, the embezzlement claims are pursued in civil court by the victim, in which cases, the accused employee may need to pay back monetary damages but won't face the threat of jail time.
In order for an embezzlement claim to stick, here are the factors that must be proved:
- The alleged embezzler had a fiduciary obligation to the victim. In other words, the victim and the alleged wrongdoer maintained a relationship of trust, and the accused person had a legal responsibility to care for and protect the best interests and property of the victim.
- The defendant acquired the money or property at issue via his or her fiduciary relationship with the victim.
- The defendant took ownership of the property that was transferred and/or stolen. This is referred to as conveyance.
- The defendant intentionally took the property at issue.
If you've been accused of embezzlement, the charges are serious. You could end up spending time in jail if you're convicted of embezzlement in criminal court. As such, you will want to handle your embezzlement defense carefully and in a legally appropriate manner.
Source: The Balance, "What Is Embezzlement?," Jean Murray, accessed Sep. 01, 2017