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Criminal defense questions: theft vs. embezzlement

As a criminal defense attorney, I get asked a lot of good questions by potential clients. A client asked me this question the other day and I thought it would make for a good blog subject. The question is: “What’s the difference between theft and embezzlement?” The simple answer is: not much. From a legal standpoint, however, the difference can be remarkable. Having a simple theft charge on your criminal record can be explainable; having an embezzlement charge can be detrimental to your future earning potential. Theft is stealing; that’s an easy enough concept. But embezzlement is stealing from your employer. The distinct difference between the two comes down to one word: “entrust.” When you are hired by someone, you are generally “entrusted” with certain things–that could be money, equipment, a company car, etc.–and if you steal something that is entrusted to you by your employer, you have committed embezzlement. When you hear about people “stealing from the register,” they are technically embezzling money from their employer. In most cases, because you are being entrusted by an employer, embezzlement is a worse crime than theft. As it is with any case, the consequences of the accused and convicted depend on varying factors and a lot of information is supposed to be taken into account during an embezzlement investigation. Usually, how much the perpetrator has stolen will determine whether or not he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Certain things taken into consideration when evaluating the crimes charged against the accused include specific circumstances, the amount of money or value of property stolen, and the accused’s prior criminal history. In cases where the accused has shown complete disregard for authority and has blatantly stole a repeated amount of times and planned the process without remorse, the prosecuting attorney will likely look to charge the suspect with a felony. However, if the accused is able to secure a quality criminal defense attorney, such as Gary Gerson, Mr. Gerson will likely be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney in such a way that the case could be filed as a misdemeanor. It’s important to understand that in order for you to have been considered an “embezzler,” your employer and the prosecutor must be able to prove that you were entrusted. This information may be common knowledge or it may be written in a contract. Since a term like “common knowledge” can mean many different things to many different people, a quality defense attorney like Gary Gerson may be the difference between being found guilty of an embezzlement felony and having your potential case dismissed. A worthy criminal defense lawyer will advocate for his or her client in a way that paints the most positive picture on his or her behalf. There are moments in peoples’ lives where the wrong decision seems like the only decision they have left. If you have been accused of embezzlement, then call Attorney Gerson and explain your story. Let a criminal defense lawyer with more than twenty-five years of experience in the Pittsburgh area help you put the pieces of your life back together and represent you in front of an often unforgiving criminal court system.

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