What is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is a crime in which the criminal steals money or goods which were entrusted to his care. This crime often takes place in a business setting. Money is involved in embezzlement schemes more often than other goods. An act of embezzlement contains four distinct elements.
- The property in question must belong to someone other than the accused. The nature of embezzlement naturally applies only to items that belong to someone else.
- The property must undergo conversion of some sort into the care of the accused. This occurs when the accused takes possession of the property without the consent of the rightful owner.
- The accused must be in a trust relationship with the rightful owner of the property. This indicates that the owner gave the accused the ability to care for and even manipulate the property in question within certain limits. This relationship is best exhibited by an employer and employee.
- The accused must form clear intent to defraud the rightful owner of the property. A person does not have adequate intent for this charge if he or she intends to return the property rather than take it.
How Embezzlement Occurs
Embezzlement can take place in many different ways. Often, an individual will embezzle a very small sum of money over a long period of time, so that it adds up to a significant fund and yet has the potential to go undetected by the rightful property owner.
Some embezzlers will use very clever means for perpetrating their crimes. For example, a payroll employee for a large company could create employees who do not really exist. The salaries paid out to said employees would then go back to that employee as part of an embezzlement crime. False billing is a form of embezzlement as well.
Though the stealthiest cases of embezzlement happen gradually over a period of time, embezzlers can also take large sums of money at once. In the case of this type of embezzlement, the criminal will usually flee once the act has been completed. Charges for embezzlement typically include restitution, fines, and the potential for imprisonment.