Of the white-collar crimes you may have heard of in the past, embezzlement is one of the most common. Embezzlement is a criminal action in which a person takes lawful possession of another person's property, takes the property for their own uses and decides not to give it back.
An example of this might be if you are given a business credit card from your employer. You're supposed to use the funds for your luncheon with coworkers, but you go on a shopping spree without authorization instead. This could be considered embezzlement.
Not all accusations of embezzlement are valid. Part of the reason is that the conversion of the property has to be done in a way that intentionally deprives the owner of their rights to that property. If it's possible to give the property back or if the property was lost, moved or slightly damaged, then embezzlement accusations may not be held up in court.
What are some acts of embezzlement?
Some acts that might be considered embezzlement include:
- Using up the assets
- Selling assets without permission
- Seriously damaging them (purposefully)
- Withholding them permanently
- Giving them away without permission
Embezzlement is most common in the corporate environment, since it tends to be committed by employees who have been given access to funds or property. A few common examples of workers who might commit embezzlement include accountants, financial managers, stock brokers, store clerks and bank tellers.
Does embezzlement have to involve money?
No, which is what many people misunderstand. Sometimes, embezzlement only involves property, like stealing company property.
What does it take for the prosecution to prove embezzlement?
The prosecution has to show that:
- There is a fiduciary relationship between the client and employee or company
- The assets or property were acquired through that relationship
- The actions taken to deprive the client or employer of their money or items was intentional
- The defendant took ownership of the missing property or gave it away to others
Remember, embezzlement can be a state or federal crime, so it does have hefty penalties that you could face upon conviction. If you are facing charges for embezzlement in Kentucky, the best thing you can do is to begin building a defense with the help of your attorney. Embezzlement cases are sometimes difficult to prove, but with forensic accountants and a thorough investigation, the prosecution will aim to have a solid case against you.