The criminal charge of embezzlement involves a person stealing property or funds that they have been entrusted with. If you have been charged with embezzlement, there are several elements that must be met before a jury can find you guilty of this crime.
You must have been in a relationship of trust and given access to or control of another person’s property or funds. For example, this could apply in an employment situation, in a business relationship or in a personal relationship. Embezzlement violates the trust between the parties.
You must also have intentionally taken the property or funds or used them in a way that the owner did not authorize and intended to defraud or deceive the rightful owner. Finally, you must have taken control or possession of the property or funds in your position of trust.
Penalties and defenses
The penalties for embezzlement may vary depending on the amount of money or property involved. You may face criminal penalties, including fines, a jail or prison sentence and restitution which requires you to repay the victim.
In some cases, the court may order probation instead of jail or prison time. During probation, you are required to meet court conditions, including avoiding further criminal activity, and you may be ordered to attend classes or similar programs.
Because one of the primary elements of embezzlement is intent, if you can prove that you did not intend to commit the crime that may be used as a defense, as well as if you did not have control or possession of the property or funds.
In addition to criminal penalties, your victims may seek damages against you to compensate them for their losses and you can face professional consequences, including loss of your professional licenses.