Simply stated, embezzlement is the theft of assets by a person who is in a position of trust or responsibility over those assets. Most often, embezzlement cases involve the workplace or the corporate world, which is why it is considered a white collar crime.
Embezzlement is theft, but with the caveat that the person took funds that he or she was supposed to manage, monitor or use on behalf of the owner, and converted those funds for his or her own personal use.
Often times, the alleged embezzler is accused stealing funds from a business or corporation and then messing around with accounting records in order to hide it.
The "elements" of an embezzlement charge include:
- There was a "fiduciary" relationship between the accused and the alleged victim;
- The accused knowingly and intentionally defrauded the owner of the assets involved;
- The assets were taken in connection with the accused's employment; and
- The assets were taken as a result of misappropriation, theft, or another method of financial manipulation.
Embezzlement cases often require an in-depth review of financial records and transactions in order to find out if there is enough evidence to suggest that a crime was committed.
Individuals who are being investigated often panic and may decide to destroy documents or files instead of handing them over. However, this can result in additional charges of obstruction of justice, which can result in jail time even if there is no evidence of embezzlement.
The most important thing a person who is accused of embezzlement can do is to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately to ensure that his or her rights are protected and good decisions are made throughout the entire process.