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What conditions are necessary to prove embezzlement?

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Facing an accusation of theft from an employer is both shocking and overwhelming. It is not something that individuals should take lightly. They must act quickly to protect their rights and best interests.

Therefore, it is critical for individuals to understand: what is necessary to prove embezzlement?

Prosecutors must prove four elements

Embezzlement is one of the most common white-collar criminal charges, but what do these charges entail? According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an act is considered embezzlement if:

  1. The individual took or held property legally, due to a fiduciary relationship
  2. They obtained such property because of their employment
  3. They fraudulently converted or used this property for their own benefit
  4. They intended to embezzle money and prevent the other individual from using it

It is essential for prosecutors to prove all of these components to convict someone on charges of embezzlement.

Why should you be aware of these elements?

This is a common question individuals have when facing such charges. However, the answer is quite simple.

If the prosecution must prove these elements to convict someone, then it is critical for the defense strategy to identify and disprove the same factors.

Intent is one of the most critical variables for individuals to consider. For example, North Carolina law specifically states that someone could be charged with embezzlement only if they:

  • Knowingly took funds for their own uses; or
  • Took money with full intention to embezzle it.

The key words in state law are “knowingly and willfully” misappropriating these funds for one’s own devices. If an individual did not intend to misuse funds or even take them, the charges they face cannot involve embezzlement.

That is why the emphasis on intent is not only important for the prosecution, but for the defense as well. If individuals can prove a lack of intention, they can potentially reduce or eliminate the serious charges – and penalties – they face.