Did you know that embezzlement and theft aren’t the same things?
Some people use them interchangeably, and it’s true that they bear some resemblance to each other, but there are some key distinctions that make them different enough to call them different names.
But when you’re considering theft vs embezzlement, what do those changes look like?
We’re here to talk about it. Keep reading to learn all about the difference between theft and embezzlement.
What Is Embezzlement?
When someone embezzles, they’re also committing theft. Think of embezzlement as a square and that as a rectangle. All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.
Embezzlement is more specific than theft and it’s a white-collar crime.
When someone embezzles, it means that they’re stealing from a fellow professional. They may be stealing from business partners, business owners, or anyone else associated with the business.
Embezzlement requires that the culprit is trusted with money and resources around the workplace.
There are several different kinds of embezzlement. While embezzlement sounds like a crime for the rich, even lower-level employees can embezzle by stealing from cash registers.
Embezzlers can also re-route money to their personal bank accounts or fudge financial documents to hide the true amount of money that’s coming into the business.
When someone is charged with embezzlement, they can receive fines and jail time. Jail time usually starts with one year for first-time offenders but it can last for up to five years. Fines may reach up to $20,000, but this varies depending on which state the embezzler is in.
What Is Theft?
Theft is a broader term than embezzlement.
When someone commits theft, they’re taking money or property from someone. If the theft isn’t also embezzlement, they’re taking that property from someone who doesn’t work alongside them (unless they’re taking an item from a purse, cubicle, or other private space from another employee).
Theft is far more common than embezzlement because there are more ways to commit it. People can break and enter before committing theft, they can steal cars (or steal from cars), and more.
When it comes to punishment, it varies depending on the kind of theft that occurred.
First-degree theft, or petty theft, may not result in anything beyond a fine. Serious theft can land someone in jail for several years and it will result in heavy fines.
Sometimes people receive theft charges due to receiving stolen property without knowing. In this case, a good lawyer can keep them out of trouble because the theft was not their fault.
Theft vs Embezzlement: Similar, But Not the Same
When it comes to theft vs embezzlement, it might seem difficult to know the difference. Remember that embezzlement happens within a workplace environment and always relates to money. Theft can happen anywhere, and it relates more often to objects or property.
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