What’s the difference between theft and embezzlement?

Embezzlement and theft are fairly common crimes, but the former may be more difficult for most people to define. While both crimes do involve the appropriation of property or assets, the crimes do differ in their methods.

Having a closer look at the nuances of different criminal offenses could help you to gain a firmer understanding of your rights under the criminal law. Outlined below are some of the key distinctions between the crimes of theft and embezzlement.

Access to property  

In Texas, for a person to be guilty of theft, they must appropriate property in an unlawful manner without the owner’s consent. This means that the accused person has accessed goods, assets or property without prior knowledge or consent from the owner. This takes us to the first key distinction between theft and embezzlement. In embezzlement cases, the accused person generally has full and lawful access to the property, and the owner is fully aware of this.

The position of trust

Those facing charges for embezzlement have typically been placed in a position of trust by the person who has been impacted. For instance, a restaurant manager may have full access to business accounts, takings and other proceeds of the business. The owner trusts them to manage funds honestly and to the benefit of the business. However, if the person who has been placed in a position of trust uses takings or business-related money to bolster their personal financial situation, they could be guilty of embezzlement.

Is embezzlement a serious offense?

The penalties for embezzlement in Texas will vary according to circumstances and the sums of money involved. For smaller amounts, an individual may be issued with lower-level fines. If the proceeds of the offense are high in value, embezzlement convictions can result in significant jail time.

Being charged with any criminal offense is a serious issue that you must address promptly. Remember that you have a presumption of innocence as well as numerous other legal rights.