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Understanding the criteria for embezzlement

Embezzlement is when someone intentionally misuses or steals assets that he or she has been granted access to temporarily. Typically, embezzlement occurs when an employee steals money from his or her workplace, although it can occur in other fiduciary relationships as well. If you handle money at work or have been accused of embezzlement, it is important that you fully understand what embezzlement is.

Sometimes actions that would seem quite simple are actually embezzlement. This could include a cashier pocketing some money that a customer gave her while completing a purchase. Embezzlement can also be done through more complicated means, such as fraudulent billing or records falsification.

What are the criteria for something to be classified as embezzlement?

The criteria for something to be considered embezzlement typically includes the following:

  • A fiduciary relationship, which involves one party relying on you to act on its behalf
  • You acquired money or property through a fiduciary relationship
  • You took ownership of the asset or gave it to someone else
  • You were intentional about your actions

Having the intent of stealing is a crucial point. If your action was an honest mistake, embezzlement did not occur. For this reason, lack of intent is one legitimate defense for some who have been accused of embezzlement.

What are the legal consequences?

However, if an action meets all of the criteria, it is punishable under New Jersey law. The legal repercussions of embezzlement range in severity based on the value of the stolen asset. Sometimes the way an item was stolen or the type of item stolen are also factors in determining the severity of the offense. However, the consequences of embezzlement typically include restoring the stolen property, paying heavy fines and jail time.

The consequences for embezzlement can be severe. If you have been accused of embezzlement, it is important to do everything in your power to seek the best possible outcome. 

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