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What is embezzlement and what do I do if I am charged with it?

There are a variety of crimes that are considered white collar crimes and embezzlement is one of them. In most states, embezzlement refers to the theft of assets by a person that is in a position of responsibility or trust concerning those assets. Embezzlement commonly takes place in employment and corporate situations. Embezzlement can include fraudulent billing, fraudulent payroll checks, payments to non-existent employees, falsification of records or financial schemes.

The most common types of embezzlement circumstances include when the party accused of embezzlement was lawfully in possession of the property they are accused of embezzling and are accused of improperly converting the property they were entrusted with for their personal use. Embezzlement situations may occur when an individual is given access to property or money belonging to someone else and charged with monitoring, managing or utilizing the assets for the best interests of the party that entrusted them and then misappropriates them for their own personal gain or use. Embezzlement can also occur in accounting situations when accounting records are manipulated to hide the theft of funds.

The embezzlement may involve a large amount of money taken at once or small amounts of money misappropriated over a period of time. The 4 elements of an embezzlement crime include a fiduciary relationship between the party entrusting the assets and the one being entrusted with the assets, and reliance by one party on the other; the party accused of embezzlement must have acquired the property through the relationship; the party accused of embezzlement must have taken ownership of the property or transferred the property; and the actions of the individual accused of embezzlement must have been intentional.

Embezzlement is a complex crime, and accusations of embezzlement can be devastating, which is why it is important those accused of it are familiar with their legal rights to help them challenge the charges they are facing. Challenges may be based on disputing the evidence against the accused individual or how it was obtained but should always be based on a strong criminal defense strategy for the protection of the accused individual.

Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, "Embezzlement," Accessed Nov. 16, 2016

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