Course: Introduction / Criminal Law
Embezzlement is the theft of an employer’s property by an employee.
According to the Model Penal Code (MPC), embezzlement is defined as the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted. This definition contains four elements that must be present in order for embezzlement to occur.
The first element is the existence of a fiduciary relationship between the defendant and the victim. This relationship can arise in a number of contexts, but it generally refers to a situation where the defendant has been entrusted with property by the victim. For example, an employee who handles cash on behalf of their employer has a fiduciary relationship with the employer.
The second element is that the defendant must have acquired the property through the fiduciary relationship. This means that the property must have been entrusted to the defendant in their capacity as a fiduciary. For example, if the employer entrusted the employee with cash to deposit in the bank, and the employee instead kept the cash for themselves, this would meet the second element of embezzlement.
The third element is that the defendant must have fraudulently appropriated the property. Fraudulent appropriation means that the defendant took the property with the intent to deprive the owner of it. For example, if the employee took the cash from their employer with the intent to keep it for themselves, this would meet the third element of embezzlement.
The fourth and final element is that the property must have some value. This means that the property must be capable of being appraised or valued in some way. For example, if the employee took a company car for a joyride, this would not be embezzlement because the car does not have a readily ascertainable value.
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Last Modified: 04/09/2023