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Understanding what embezzlement is and how to prove it

When you read a story of embezzlement in the newspaper or hear about it on the news, most likely what you hear about is tied in to some type of misappropriation of funds by either a government employee or some corporate bigwig. In either case, the allegations involve a person who has been entrusted to protect those assets.

One of the more common types of embezzlement involves an individual attempting to manipulate financial records in an effort to hide his or her attempts to steal funds. Once such impropriety is discovered, it generally results in an individual being charged with converting property for personal use.

In other cases, an individual may be entrusted to either monitor or manage another's assets. The individual, in this case, has a responsibility to handle these assets with the best interests of the owner at heart, but fails to do so. That trustee instead makes choices that will benefit them in their individual capacity.

While many embezzlement schemes highlighted on the news involves the misappropriation of government funds or corporate greed, whether it be through falsifying records, fraudulent billing or involvement in Ponzi schemes; it can happen on a much smaller scale as well. In fact, it is not all that uncommon that those in possession of their employer's property or money, like store clerks or bank tellers, steal away small amounts of resources over an extended period of time.

To prove a case of alleged embezzlement, it's important that four factors be present to do so. For starters, there has to be a relationship between the two parties in which one relies on another. Additionally, the alleged theft of property has to have stemmed from the involvement of the two parties with one another.

A prosecutor attempting to prove a case of embezzlement must also be able to be proven that somehow the defendant intentionally took hold of the property as their own. Proving that the individual handed the money or possession over to someone else as if it were their own may be enough to secure a conviction as well.

If you live in Orange County, California, and have been charged with embezzlement, a white collar crimes attorney may be able to provide you with guidance in your case.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Embezzlement," accessed April 12, 2017

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