Embezzlement is a financial crime that someone commits in order to gain financial assets for themselves. It is certainly a type of theft and falls under that general umbrella.
However, there are some key distinctions that make embezzlement different than traditional types of theft. It’s important to know what these are if you’re facing such accusations. It may help you as you look into all of the legal options that you have and determine the best defense strategy.
You may originally obtain the assets legally
One of the biggest differences is how you get the assets initially. With other types of theft, the individual is accused of taking something that does not belong to them directly. Someone breaks into a home and steals a television, for example.
With embezzlement, however, the assets are often given to you – for example, to invest or hold. You legally obtain them. The problem is misappropriation after the fact. When those assets are transferred somewhere else illegally or used in an inappropriate manner, then it becomes embezzlement. This is true even though you were supposed to be given the assets, perhaps as part of your duties at work.
For instance, someone who works at a store or restaurant may be tasked with taking the money from a cash register and depositing it in the bank at the end of the night. They are certainly allowed to take the money with them, but as soon as they keep some for themselves instead of depositing it all in the bank, it becomes embezzlement.
This may seem like a small distinction, but it can make a very big difference when looking at the chain of evidence and what a person’s responsibilities actually were. If you’re facing such charges, be sure you know about all of the criminal defense options at your disposal.