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What is the difference between larceny and embezzlement?

People who are accused of committing certain crimes in Georgia know how much of an impact those accusations can have on their lives. Having a clear understanding of what distinguishes larceny from embezzlement and what they mean individually can help you to better understand your situation and actions you may need to take.

The difference between the two

Larceny is classified as theft in many states, as is embezzlement. However, when larceny is committed, the possession of misappropriated items is done illegally and with permanent intent. With embezzlement, the distinction is the property is obtained through legal means from a person who trusted you to manage it. It does not matter if the offense is committed with temporary or permanent intent.

Definition of embezzlement

Anyone who has the power to act on the behalf of another can be charged with embezzlement if they misappropriate another person's funds or valuables. When you are entrusted by someone to care for their valuables like assets and monies, and you intentionally deceive and mislead them so you can gain possession of those items for your own personal gain, you are violating their trust. For example, if you take money from a client who has given you fiduciary rights to manage their properties and deposit it into your personal accounts, you are committing embezzlement.

Usually an investigation takes place to uncover embezzlement, because it can occur over long period of time. Four elements must be present to prove embezzlement. You must obtain access or commit fraud to gain unlawful possession of someone else's valuables, a relationship must exist between you and that person, you must misrepresent that relationship to gain possession of their property, and you must act intentionally.

Definition of larceny

When you take illegal actions to permanently prevent someone from having possession of something they own, you are committing larceny. Force does not have to be involved, the owner does not have to know of your intent and the items you take do not have to be entrusted to your care. There are two types of larceny, petit and grand. The type of larceny you may be charged with is determined by the value of what is taken from the rightful owner. An example of larceny is when someone steals a car, with the thief removing the vehicle from the owner's possession with the intent to do so permanently.

By classification, both of these offenses are white collar crimes involving some form of theft. They both involve the use of deception to take something from another party. Dealing with crimes involving larceny and embezzlement can be very challenging to handle on your own. You should consider discussing your situation with an attorney if you have concerns about theft, larceny and embezzlement.

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