Embezzlement is a form of theft. Embezzlement is a theft committed by someone entrusted with the property they have stolen; the defendant accused of embezzlement would have to have been entrusted with the property by the owner, or someone the owner has entrusted to delegate responsibility over the property, and then the defendant would have used or converted the property for his or her own benefit with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the use of that property. An example of this would be a cashier working at a store who pockets money or merchandise from that store without permission. If a defendant has not been given authority over the property they have stolen, it is merely a theft rather than embezzlement.
Embezzlement can become very complicated in contexts of business partnerships. Most business partnerships allow all partners to have an undivided interest in the property which that partnership manages or keeps. That partner’s interest/property he or she has taken belongs to himself or herself but that ownership is also in conjunction with the other partners. Since a partnership consists of multiple ownership over a single property/business, having deprived another owner of the use of their property would constitute embezzlement. Usually a complete or almost complete deprivation is necessary since partnerships allow the multiple ownership of the whole of the property by each individual partner. Other defenses to embezzlement would be the same as simple theft crimes. (See Theft/Larceny).
Elements, crimes and defenses vary from state to state and within the federal system. If you or someone you know is charged with any crime, as always, you should consult a local attorney, licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and preferably one practicing only criminal law. You can always look for your local criminal attorney at http://www.crimelawyers.org
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