Embezzlement is defined differently according to whatever statute is applicable in the state in question. In general, there is one element that needs to be present for the crime of embezzlement, which is the fraudulent conversion of property of another person by someone who has lawful possession of the property. In simpler terms, if a lawyer had money in trust for a client, but stole it to buy a luxury home, this would be embezzlement. In basic terms, embezzlement is financial fraud.
Typically, this is a premeditated crime, carried out methodically and hidden from others. More often than not, it involves a trusted person embezzling a small amount of money received to reduce the risk of being caught. If they are successful, they may continue for years, or until they are caught.
Fraudulent conversion indicates the defendant willfully and without the right to do so, converted the property to their own use. Conversion is considered to be a crime against ownership, in that it affects the true owner’s rights relating to the property. Property that may be embezzled includes tangible personal property and intangible personal property. A person cannot embezzle his or her own property.