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Criminal defense: What does an embezzlement charge involve?

Any person in Pennsylvania who is accused of a white collar crime, such as embezzlement, may have many questions about the allegations, the law and his or her legal rights. The most logical first step to take may be to seek the support and guidance of a criminal defense attorney -- even before charges are filed. An experienced lawyer can provide answers and advocate for the accused person throughout the legal proceedings that might follow.

Embezzlement is sometimes called employee theft, and it is an act of wrongful appropriation of funds that belonged to someone else and was entrusted to the accused person. It is not a crime that can only be committed by employees; anybody can be charged with violating fiduciary responsibility. However, it is often allegations made against accountants for manipulating financial records to hide misappropriated funds.

Other examples of this crime include bank tellers who steal deposits, bookkeepers who fail to give customers refunds and keep it instead, payroll clerks who keep portions of payroll taxes rather than depositing them. Another example involved a recycling employee who overpaid a provider of scrap metal, arranging to share the extra money. Then there is embezzlement in the retail industry, where employees take merchandise or gift cards without paying for it. Countless other forms of embezzlement exist, many of which involve computers and the internet.

However, to support any embezzlement charge, certain factors must be proven, and all of them can be tough to prove. This is where the Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney comes in. He or she can question the fiduciary relationship between the two parties and that the alleged embezzled funds were acquired through that relationship. Furthermore, it must be shown that the accused individual took ownership of the stolen property and that the actions were done with intent.

Source:, "What Is Embezzlement?", Jean Murray, Accessed on Aug. 4, 2017

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