If a person is accused of embezzlement, he or she could face serious penalties. Embezzlement occurs where a person misappropriates assets entrusted to him or her and converts them to his or her own use.
The embezzler must have had a fiduciary duty to the person he or she embezzled from, meaning that he or she was required to act in that person’s best interest and did not. Usually, embezzlement involves taking money but it may also include transferring assets like real estate, equipment, company vehicles or electronic equipment for personal use.
Embezzlement is a white-collar crime that can occur with small amounts of money as well as in large-scale transactions. It is called a white-collar crime because it is a non-violent offense involving a breach of trust.
In larger embezzlement situations, the person might create false receipts or bills, invoice for services that he or she did not provide or falsely submit expenses to his or her company for reimbursement. In smaller situations, embezzlement could involve taking money from a cash register, for example.
If a person is found guilty of embezzlement, he or she may have to pay a fine, serve jail time or both.
There are several potential defenses to embezzlement, including a lack of intent to commit a crime, proof that the assets were taken for an appropriate business use or proof that the accused did not take the assets at all.
If a person has been accused of embezzlement, there is help available to review the situation and discuss next steps.