Embezzlement occurs when a person in a position of trust uses that position for personal gain or other wrongful reasons. What differentiates it from theft is that the owner of the funds trusts the person with their financial assets or property. It involves betrayal. Someone gives another the responsibility to act on their behalf reliably and with their interests in mind. The alleged embezzler breaks that trust by stealing the property or misappropriating the funds they accepted responsibility for.
In South Carolina, the form of embezzlement described above is a breach of trust with fraudulent intent. The state law does not refer to it as embezzlement unless public funds are involved. However, a breach of trust is still a criminal offense, and the court penalizes it as such.
How does a breach of trust happen in a business setting?
Businesses, especially financial institutions, can hold large sums of money that may or may not belong to them. It can be money from investors, clients or the company finances. They have employees, managers, officers, directors and other supervisors that may have access to these funds. It makes monitoring every single transaction increasingly difficult, particularly for larger companies.
The breach of trust does not only happen between a client and the company or individual they trusted with their finances. It can happen when an employer diverts company funds for their own use. It can also happen when an employee siphons their employer’s or the company’s finances into their personal bank accounts. The problem is that a corporate officer or supervisor with access to the company and employee accounts can use their employees to cover up their tracks.
Defending yourself against unfair embezzlement allegations
To prove a breach of trust happened, the alleged defendant should have taken the money with the intent to use it as their own. An employee could be in the middle of an embezzlement scheme without knowledge or intent. If you believe someone is framing you for their own criminal offenses, you have the right to prove your innocence. Do not let duress get in the way of your freedom.