What constitutes as embezzlement?
Embezzlement is a type of fraud or theft that falls under white-collar crime. The United States Department of Justice describes embezzlement as the fraudulent appropriation of property.
If you face accusations of embezzlement, there are several elements that a prosecutor must prove to convict you.
You had a fiduciary or trusted relationship with a government agency or private organization
One of the significant differences between embezzlement and larceny is that you do not steal the property at the time of taking it. For example, if you work for a company and the business entrusts you with handling money, you did not break any laws by handling it. You may have no intent to commit a crime at first. Your actions later determine whether you commit embezzlement.
You appropriated the property for your own use
Once you have the money or assets in hand, you use those assets for your own good. For example, you may take some of the money to pay off a personal bill or to make a purchase. Even if you think the action will go unnoticed, you still intend to deprive an institution of property. The intent is one of the essential elements of embezzlement.
What if you only meant to borrow the asset or money? For example, you may skim money off the top to pay off a few bills to replace it. You do not have to deprive the owner of his or her property permanently to face an embezzlement conviction. Embezzlement is a specific intent crime, but it does not hinge on the theft being permanent.