Embezzlement is defined as the act of theft or misappropriation of funds placed in the trust of someone, such as funds that belong to an employer. In essence, when a person entrusts their property to another person, but the person in possession of the property unlawfully converts the ownership rights with the intent to defraud the true owner, they are embezzling the person who trusted them with that property.
An example of this is an employee who is allowed access to a certain amount of the company’s money. Although such a person has lawful possession of the funds, if they were to move the funds to another account for their own personal use, it could be considered embezzlement.
Embezzlement differs from theft, or larceny, in that the defendant is authorized to have physical possession of the property; they have initially been given permission to access the property. Theft occurs when the property is taken with no prior knowledge or consent from the person who owns the property.
The criminal act of embezzlement occurs with regards to the title and ownership rights. Additionally, embezzlement is often committed by people in positions of trust who are granted lawful possession of funds or property, as previously mentioned.
This could include people such as brokers, trustees, employees, and public officials. In order to be found guilty of embezzlement, the defendant does not necessarily need to benefit themselves.
Felony embezzlement, a more severe form of embezzlement, is a type of white collar crime in which results in felony charges, as opposed to the typical misdemeanor charges. This distinction mostly hinges on the value of the goods that were converted, as felony embezzlement involves the unlawful conversion of ownership rights to property or assets.