When it comes to theft and embezzlement charges, the specifics may seem a little murky at first. If you have difficulty distinguishing between the two, you are not alone, but learning how can help you understand the charges you may face.
Theft and embezzlement both involve obtaining another person’s property, but the circumstances are very different.
What is theft?
Theft involves any action where you obtain unauthorized control over another person’s property. Theft can also include obtaining property through deception. For instance, if you know that someone lost property and you locate it and take it for yourself, you may face charges of theft. To face charges of theft, you have to willingly and knowingly try to keep someone’s property for yourself.
What is embezzlement?
Embezzlement occurs when there is a fiduciary relationship between a private organization or government agency and the defendant. To face embezzlement charges, you must be an entrusted person of the plaintiff. Unlike theft, you obtain the assets or property lawfully and with the consent of the owner. Embezzlement may include misappropriation of funds, such as using the money for personal reasons instead of what the defendant trusted them to use it for.
To face penalties for embezzlement, you must intend to deprive the owner of his or her property. The intent to deprive the owner of his or her property does not necessarily mean that you intend to permanently deny the person of the property. You can plan to restore the property and still face embezzlement charges. When trusted with someone’s assets, you must use them as promised.
Regarding theft versus embezzlement, embezzlement tends to involve higher-value assets or money. Additionally, if you face charges of embezzlement, you can face criminal and civil charges.