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What is embezzlement?

Lawmakers, law enforcement personnel and others sometimes use the term "white-collar crime" to refer to a large category of financial crimes that occur in a workplace setting. The term itself comes from an old-fashioned notion that laborers wore shirts with blue collars while managers, bankers and other professionals wore shirts with white collars. But in fact, white-collar crimes can happen in many industries and types of workplaces. This is most easily seen in cases involving alleged embezzlement.

Under Ohio law, embezzlement is a type of theft carried out by someone who has lawful possession of property owned by another person. When the possessor takes that property for their own use with no intention of giving it back, they have committed embezzlement. The property involved can be money or something else.

For example, imagine a corner store where an employee has access to the cash register. The employee, Sam, has possession of the money in the cash drawer, but it lawfully belongs to Sam's employer, Trish. If Sam, without Trish's permission, takes a $20 bill out of the till at the end of his shift and uses it to buy himself a couple of beers at the bar down the street, he has committed embezzlement.

The above example is a very simple form of embezzlement, with a relatively low amount of money involved, but embezzlement can also involve huge amounts of money and complicated financial maneuvering that takes place over a long period of time. Embezzlement often comes up as a charge in cases involving financial managers, business partners and stock brokers, as well as cashiers, office managers and bank tellers.

When the alleged crime is complex, the evidence can be very difficult to understand and interpret for the court. It is especially important in these cases for the accused to seek out help from an experienced defense attorney.

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