Employee theft v. embezzlement: What’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2021 | White Collar Crimes |

What’s the difference between embezzlement and employee theft in Missouri? Both are white-collar crimes, but legally speaking, their parameters vary slightly. In short, all embezzlement is theft, but not all theft is embezzlement.

Employee theft

Legal codes define theft as taking something of material value without permission. People who commit theft knowingly act to deprive owners of their property.

Missouri recognizes eight degrees of theft, from Class A felony theft, which could come with 30 years to life, to Class A misdemeanor theft, which typically results in a $2,000 fine and, in rare cases, up to one year in jail.

Employee embezzlement

Embezzlement is a type of white collar crime that involves the misappropriation of funds entrusted to a certain individual or entity. For an act to qualify as embezzlement, there must be a fiduciary relationship between the involved parties, the property in question must be tied to said fiduciary relationship, and the accused must have acted purposefully.

Defenses to theft and embezzlement in Missouri

Most people accused of theft or embezzlement in Missouri> mount a good-faith defense, arguing that they had a right to act the way they did. Along the same lines, some people accused of the white collar crime claim that the property owner would have consented or acted similarly given the circumstances.

Insufficient evidence, entrapment, incapacity, duress, and lack of intent are also viable defenses against the white collar crime of embezzlement.

Being accused of workplace theft or embezzlement is not the same as being convicted. After all, not every case is a slam dunk. White collar crime is a nuanced area of law, and having the right attorney by your side could make all the difference in the outcome of your case.


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