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Can You Commit Embezzlement By Accident?

There are some crimes that individuals can commit unintentionally. Is embezzlement one of them? Let’s discuss.

What Is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a white-collar crime that occurs when someone violates their fiduciary duty to steal assets. The most common example of this is an employee stealing company funds or property from their employer.

This may be done by:

  • Cash skimming
  • Forging checks
  • Altering bank statements
  • Taking office supplies

The Role Of Intent in Embezzlement Crimes

There are a few key components that must be present for a crime to be considered embezzlement:

  • The individual suspected of committing embezzlement had a fiduciary relationship with the other individual or company
  • The individual was able to obtain the stolen property or funds because of that fiduciary relationship
  • The individual intended to permanently keep the property or funds
  • The theft was intentional

In some cases, an individual may unintentionally commit embezzlement. For example, they may have made an innocent error on financial documents or misunderstood other directives. If this is the case, the defendant should explain this in their defense.

Defenses for Embezzlement Crimes

Embezzlement charges are serious and require a strong defense strategy.

Some defenses used for embezzlement charges include:

  • Lack of intent: The defendant did not mean to steal from their employer.
  • Lack of knowledge of crime: The defendant did not know that what they were doing was wrong or a criminal offense.
  • Lack of intent to permanently steal: The defendant can argue that they did not intend to keep the company property or funds permanently and only intended to take possession of them temporarily.
  • Insufficient evidence: A significant percentage of embezzlement cases are dropped for this reason!
  • Duress: The defendant can argue that outside factors and pressure led them to commit theft under duress.

Embezzlement Defense in California

If your employer has accused you of stealing company funds or property, you should contact a defense attorney. The accusation may be followed with formal criminal charges, and you should be prepared. Our team at Schweitzer & Davidian is available to take your call and learn more about the embezzlement accusations and charges against you. Reach us at (559) 206-2322 to speak with our experienced white-collar crimes defense team.