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What must be established to prove embezzlement charges?

It is likely that you picture a CEO or businessperson in a suit and tie when you hear the phrase "white collar crime." This is the stereotype of this type of crime: a powerful business person who used his or her position to take asset that don't belong to him or her. And in many cases, this holds true. But in many other cases, the accused person is a bank teller or a lower-level employee who was granted access to a company computer or vehicle.

White collar crimes are serious offenses that carry significant penalties. There are many different types of white collar crimes, and today we want to focus on just one: embezzlement. This is an allegation that involves a person being accused of stealing company property or assets that they were entrusted with.

The charge of embezzlement carries tremendous legal consequences, but in order for a person accused of the crime to be found guilty, the prosecution needs to prove four important points:

  • Was there a fiduciary relationship between the accused person and the victimized party?
  • Did the accused person officially take ownership of the asset or transfer the asset to someone else?
  • Did the accused person get the asset as a result of the fiduciary relationship?
  • Was there intent on the part of the accused individual?

If the answer to all four of these points is "yes," then the accused person could be found guilty of embezzlement. If not, then the charge of embezzlement isn't supported.

Source: FindLaw, "Embezzlement," Accessed Sept. 18, 2017

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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