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Criminal Law Blog

What Constitutes Embezzlement?

September 21, 2018

Embezzlement is a serious criminal conviction that involves the theft of money or property, but it is more than just petty theft. With embezzlement, an individual who has access to the funds or assets of a company or individual will manipulate financial records for his or her own personal gain. In order to prove embezzlement has occurred, a prosecutor must establish that the accused acted intentionally to divert or disguise assets for his or her personal use. Let’s take a closer look at the facts about this crime, so you can better understand it if you are facing charges and know what it takes to build a strong defense against those charges.

Embezzlement is a white collar crime.

In order to commit embezzlement, one must have a position of trust or responsibility over the assets they’ve stolen. An accountant, for example, may alter records to make a business appear less profitable so that funds can be diverted into a personal account. For this reason, embezzlement often takes place in corporate environments. It can also be established in cases where someone is responsible for the assets of another individual, such as a family member managing an elderly relative’s finances.

A fiduciary relationship must be present for embezzlement to occur.

The key to establishing embezzlement charges is establishing that the accused had responsibility of the assets stolen and that a fiduciary relationship was in place with a reliance on the accused individual. The funds or assets acquired also had to be gained through that financial relationship and not through other means. Determining that the defendant’s actions were intentional is also important—bookkeeping errors in which an employee inadvertently benefits, for example, may not be considered embezzlement.

Are you facing embezzlement charges in Southern Arizona? Don’t leave your case to chance. Find the representation you need with Janet Altschuler, attorney at law. You can reach her office at (520) 247-1789 to schedule a confidential consultation where you can discuss your case.

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