Understanding Embezzlement and Its Elements

White-collar crimes are sometimes looked at as lesser crimes, as they occur in a setting such as a workplace. While these crimes are different from crimes such as drug trafficking and murder, white-collar crimes can result in felony charges that carry with them serious penalties. Thus, like any criminal charge, white-collars crimes should be treated seriously, and defendants should act upon them by asserting a strong defense.

Embezzlement is a crime that frequently occurs in either employment or corporate settings. Accounting embezzlement is a common form of this crime, and involves the manipulation of accounting records as a means to hide the theft of funds. In these matters, the accused offender was given lawful possession of the money or property in question, converting it to their personal property.

As a means to manage, monitor or use the assets of a owner in the owner's best interests, employees are entrusted to access and to some degree control them. However, when an individual misappropriates the assets for his or her own personal gain, this could be considered embezzlement.

However, in order for an individual to be charged with embezzlement, four elements must be met. First, a fiduciary relationship between the accused and the owner of the property must exist. Next, the accused must have acquired the property through this relationship. Third, the accused must have taken ownership of the property or transferred it to someone else. Finally, the defendant's actions must have been intentional.

Those accused of embezzlement should treat the charges as serious while taking a serious approach to a criminal defense. Whether that means proving that one or more of the necessary elements do not exist or asserting another defense, this could help the accused avoid harsh consequences by reducing or dismissing the charges against them.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Embezzlement," accessed August 20, 2017

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