It is common in both national new reports and local news reports in Iowa to hear of people accused of the crime of "embezzlement." Usually it involves a person taking money that they are not entitled to take. But, how does embezzlement differ from theft? Our readers should know some specifics about the crime of embezzlement.
Accusations of embezzlement are usually made in an employment, corporate or non-profit setting. This is because embezzlement is defined as the theft of assets by a person in a position of responsibility or trust over the assets. The assets in question could be money, property or both. Embezzlement is usually classified as a white collar crime.
Many employees, such as accountants, bookkeepers, store clerks and bank tellers, are granted access to money or property for legitimate business purposes. When these people are accused of misappropriating assets for their own personal use, they may face charges of embezzlement. Embezzlement can also occur with employees who are given access to property - such as computers or cars - for business purposes.
It can be shocking and confusing to be accused of embezzlement. It is important to remember that defenses exist to charges of embezzlement. First, it may be the case that the accused person never took possession of, or used, the assets at all. Another defense is that the assets in question were not acquired from the organization and thus the accused did not have a responsibility not to use the assets for unauthorized purposes. Yet another defense is that the accused did use the assets, but used them for legitimate business purposes within the permissible scope of the person's responsibility.