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Embezzling money: It doesn't have to be a lot to be illegal

When we read stories about embezzlement, we often read about the ones involving huge amounts of money. For instance, recently a manager for entertainers and athletes admitted that he embezzled more than $6 million from a number of his clients.

Most people who read that would know that taking that much money from other people is certainly wrong. However, that line between right and wrong can seem a little fuzzier when a situation involves much smaller amounts of money, and when it involves a financially-desperate parent instead of celebrity manager. 

Many people who face charges for embezzlement are not high-profile; they don't work for billion dollar corporations; they aren't leading extravagant lifestyles. Instead, they are regular people who, for one reason or another, make a very bad decision to take money from an organization.

This decision isn't necessarily driven solely by greed. Rather, it's driven by the fear or desperation of someone dealing with addiction or crushing debt; or the reasoning behind it is completely unrelated to money.

And rather than taking thousands of dollars, a person might start with taking a little money here and there, justifying the action by saying he or she will repay it, or that the party from whom the money is coming won't even realize it's gone. 

Under these circumstances, it might seem like the act of taking money is not that bad, or that it is somehow something other than embezzlement. 

But make no mistake: Being in a position of financial trust or responsibility and then taking money without permission is a criminal offense. And even if the amount involved seems small, it can still lead to some serious consequences including fines and jail time. So while it might seem like only cases involving large sums of money lead to criminal investigations and convictions because that's all you might see in the news, every case of embezzlement can lead to a conviction.

If you have been accused of or charged with embezzlement, you need to take the situation seriously, regardless of how much money is involved. Consulting an attorney right away can help you understand your rights and legal options.

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