Embezzlement vs. theft

While you may think of theft and embezzlement as the same thing, the law defines them differently. The consequences for embezzlement are somewhat different than the consequences for theft in California. By understanding the differences, you’ll be better suited to formulate your defense against the matter.

The big difference

In legal terms, the big difference between embezzlement and theft is that a person who embezzled was entrusted with the money or assets. A person who commits theft is one who was not entrusted with the money or items that were stolen. For this reason, most embezzlement happens at a place of work. These can include an employee of a company or an organizer of a community group or nonprofit organization.

Some examples of embezzlement

The best way to understand embezzlement is to take a look at some examples. One easy example of embezzlement is an employee who charges more than the actual cost of a product to a customer and pockets the difference. Another form of embezzlement is taking office supplies or inventory for your personal use. This could be as simple as taking reams of copier paper from your office space and using them for your own personal needs with your home printer.

Embezzlement can happen on a big or small scale. Since the employee is entrusted with various responsibilities, many business owners do not discover employees’ embezzlement until a large number of assets are stolen. In many cases, embezzlement may go on for years or even decades before the business owner finds out.

While it might not have seemed like a big deal at the time, many small actions can lead to large embezzlement charges. If you’re facing embezzlement charges, it’s highly advisable to speak with a lawyer regarding your rights and to craft a formidable defense strategy.