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Could embezzlement be accidental?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In many ways, embezzlement is similar to theft. It takes place when someone procures financial assets from a company, usually one that they work for. An example could be an executive transferring funds out of a company account and into their personal bank account without the authorization to do so and then doctoring the accounting papers to try to hide this transfer of funds.

However, knowing how serious this is, you may be concerned that you could accidentally embezzle money from your employer. Would it be possible to make an accounting mistake or an accidental financial transaction that is so egregiously incorrect that you wind up facing criminal charges?

Embezzlement must contain intent

It is certainly possible to make a mistake that leads to allegations of embezzlement or that starts an investigation. But that doesn’t mean that you are actually guilty of embezzlement because it requires intent. So, if it was an honest accident, it is impossible for it to actually be embezzlement. It’s just a mistake. An embezzlement is always an intentional act that defrauds someone else.

Where things become complicated is when you have to demonstrate that you didn’t know that you made the mistake or that you didn’t do it on purpose. The paper trail may clearly show that you transferred money from a corporate account into a personal account, for instance. But did you just enter the wrong account number out of memory? Or did you purposefully put your account number into that transaction to try to steal those funds for yourself?

If you’re being blamed for taking intentional illegal action when you know that you just made a mistake, it’s crucial to begin looking into the legal defense options at your disposal.