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What are the elements of embezzlement?

As mentioned last week on this blog, regardless of the amount of money involved, embezzlement is a crime. But what exactly is embezzlement and what needs to be demonstrated in order to prove it in court?

Embezzlement is when one person fraudulently takes someone's property when it has been entrusted to them. This means that embezzlement doesn't only have to involve money. Ohio residents may not know that a unique aspect of this crime is the manner in which it differs from larceny. If someone has the right to possess the funds that they have taken, then larceny cannot be proven. However, in embezzlement it has to be shown that an employee had possession of the goods either because of their position or because they have the authority to exercise control over the goods. Some examples of embezzlement involve skimming off the top, a process that usually continues over a period of time, or instances where someone takes a large amount of money in a one off instance.

In order to prove embezzlement, four elements must be met. First, the prosecutor must show that there was a fiduciary relationship between the two parties, and second that the property must have been acquired through the relationship. Third, the person accused of committing the crime must have taken possession of the property or transferred it to someone else and fourth, the acts must have been intentional. This means that if any of these are not proven, the white collar crime of embezzlement cannot be established.

Understanding the law is just the first step to defending one's right in the face of allegations of committing a crime. The second step could be consulting a criminal defense attorney for guidance on the best way to protect one's rights.

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