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What is embezzlement?

Although most criminal crimes that we hear or read about on the news are either drug crimes, drunk driving, or crimes related to violence, white collar crimes such as embezzlement are equally as serious, and could lead to very serious consequences if someone is found guilty. But what exactly, is embezzlement?

A majority of states in the U.S. define embezzlement as the theft or larceny of assets either in form of money or property by someone who had been given permission or the responsibility of handling the money or property in question. It is not uncommon in the field of accounting, where one could "cook the books" or potentially hide monies or assets in personal accounts, essentially stealing from an employer. It also could include property such as company vehicles or technology equipment that is taken from an employer.

Embezzlement is common in the corporate world, where there are various methods and ways of stealing the assets. Some try to take a large sum at once, while others find it more discreet to take small amounts over a long period of time, done in an effort to make the losses less noticeable. There are for factors that must be present at a trial in order for it to be considered embezzlement. First, the relationship between the accused and the accuser must be a fiduciary relationship, meaning that there is a reliance of one person over the other. The defendant must have obtained the assets or property from the relationship with the accuser, the defendant's motivations and actions must have been intentional, and the defendant must have taken ownership of the assets or property.

As you can see, embezzlement is a serious crime. It is also worth noting that white collar crimes can be just as serious as any other crime, carrying with it serious fines and substantial time in prison, depending upon the circumstances.

Source: Findlaw.com "Embezzlement," Accessed July 12, 2017

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