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Embezzlement - defined

In South Carolina, along with every other state in the U.S., embezzlement is a serious charge. In most cases, it applies to someone who committed theft or larceny. Furthermore, the person that commits embezzlement is usually an individual who had some sort of position or authority to safeguard the money, property or other assets stolen. For example, a cashier that pockets a few cents during every transaction is embezzling from the store he or she works for.

In most cases, embezzlement occurs in employment and corporate environments. Sometimes the embezzlement can be so extreme that it causes a business to fail. For instance, if an accountant is embezzling from a company, then this person can alter the books to hide the theft, sometimes for very long periods of time. For more information on embezzlement, read further.

Taking company property for personal use

Embezzlement is not limited to taking money from a company. Imagine that your supervisor gave you possession of a company owned laptop. If you take the laptop and begin to use it for your own personal needs, then you are essentially embezzling from the company. Any time an employee takes company property for personal use, then embezzlement occurs.

Various methods

In some cases, an individual will make off with a large sum of money all at once or with a high value item. In other cases, the full range of the embezzlement occurs over time. For example, an employee that is engaging in fraudulent billing practices for his or her own financial gain, falsifying paychecks and other records, or even taking part in a Ponzi scheme, is generally committing embezzlement.

Factors that must be present

In order for the court to have a case for embezzlement, four factors must exist. First, a fiduciary relationship must exist between the accused and the owner of the property. In the above example, the store trusts the cashier to take payment for the store's property, therefore a fiduciary relationship exists between the store and the cashier. Second, the defendant must have had access to the property as a direct result of the relationship. To continue with the example, the cashier is in possession of the store's cash during his or her shift. Third, the defendant either has to take possession of the property or give it to someone else other than the lawful owner. If the cashier pockets the cash or passes it off to a partner, then this requirement is fulfilled. Fourth, the act must be intentional.

Embezzlement is a serious crime that can come with some very severe consequences, including expensive fines and jail time. If you are facing charges for embezzlement, or another white collar crime, it is important to remember that you still have rights and options.

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Price Law Firm, P.A.
644 East Washington Street
Greenville, SC 29601

Phone: 864-501-9627
Fax: 864-242-6560
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