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One way embezzlement differs from theft

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Criminal Law

Theft and embezzlement are similar in many ways. Often, people think of embezzlement as just another type of theft.

But these two crimes can also be significantly different. It is important for those who are facing charges to understand these differences because they may feel that the charges being leveled against them do not accurately reflect what took place. 

The misappropriation of funds

The biggest difference is that embezzlement involves the misappropriation of funds that the person was allowed to access, while theft involves the taking of funds or other assets that the person was not supposed to access.

For example, say that someone walks into a business and hands the cashier a note saying that they have a gun. The cashier empties the register and gives the person all of the money. This is theft. That person was never supposed to have the money from the business and they took it through violent means.

On the other hand, say that the cashier is in charge of putting all of the daily earnings into the safe at the end of the night. Since they are the one who counts the money, they begin skimming a portion of that money off of the top and altering the books to hide what they’re doing. This is embezzlement. The cashier was allowed to handle that money, but they just used it in an inappropriate and unauthorized manner.

This may sound like a small distinction, but even the littlest details are important during a criminal case. Those who are facing serious allegations need to be well aware of the defense options at their disposal.