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Can you commit embezzlement without knowing?

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2023 | Criminal Defense, White Collar Crimes

Embezzlement is when a person intentionally misappropriates money from the person or entity who trusted them with their assets. They transfer assets that do not belong to them for their own interest. It can certainly happen accidentally or without the embezzler knowing they committed a crime.

The alleged embezzler may not have intended to steal the assets or may not have known what they were doing was wrong. If someone is accusing you of embezzlement, you must understand what makes embezzlement a crime so you can defend yourself from unfair charges.

What is the role of intent when facing embezzlement charges?

Georgia laws use the term conversion instead of embezzlement. Conversion is a general term that refers to “the unauthorized use or control of another person’s property.” A person who commits embezzlement in Georgia has lawful possession or control of the property, but they use the assets for an unauthorized purpose. They have a fiduciary relationship with the person or entity who entrusted them with the property, and they breach that duty once they use their position of trust for personal gain.

However, it is possible to make errors and miscalculations when handling different accounts on varying platforms. You can only be guilty of a crime such as embezzlement if you had the intent to steal from or defraud the party who gave you lawful possession of their property. A crime is always an intentional act. If you made an honest mistake or misunderstood the instructions, you did not commit the crime of embezzlement.

Why do you still need a solid defense if it was an accident?

Even though you did not intend to commit the crime, embezzlement charges may lead to hefty penalties and possible jail time. Prosecutors will try their best to convict you because of the gravity of the criminal offense. You might not understand all the facts surrounding your case, and other parties could be involved in trying to use your position of trust against you.

The person or entity trusted you with their property. You must prove to them you are worthy of their trust, and you never intended to break it.