Most New Jersey residents have probably heard of the legal term embezzlement, but many do not really understand the crime very well. As such, when allegations of embezzlement are made, it can take those accused by surprise. In the simplest terms possible, embezzlement is just another way to say theft.
In contrast to accusations of theft for stealing items from a retail store or from someone's home, embezzlement is a more specific type of white collar crime. In most cases, a person accused of embezzlement fills a role of financial responsibility in an organization or agreement of some kind. Examples include a store manager or a bank executive or even someone named as an estate executor. However, most people who face embezzlement charges fill an authoritative role inside a corporation or a business.
Embezzlement can occur when someone steals large amounts of money at once, or when a person steals a little bit of money at a time over a lengthy period. Methods of embezzlement include issuing payroll checks to employees who do not exist, fraudulent billing, falsifying records and engaging in investment or Ponzi schemes.
Arguably, the most important thing you should know about embezzlement is that four factors must exist before you can be charged. These factors are:
-- The presence of a fiduciary relationship, which means that one party relies on the other
-- The person accused of embezzlement had to acquire the property or assets through the fiduciary relationship
-- The accused took ownership of the property or transferred it to another for ownership
-- The accused intended to take the property
Even if you feel you are innocent, you should take accusations of embezzlement seriously. If you have not already acquired a criminal defense attorney, you should consider doing so right away to lessen the risk of prosecution.
Source: FindLaw, "Embezzlement," accessed May 13, 2016