Ever since the invention of money, thieves have developed any number of ways to steal money that doesn't belong to them. In some situations, the would-be thief already has possession of the money because the owner has entrusted him with it. If that person uses the money for his own purposes, this is known as misappropriation of funds.
Misappropriation of funds is one type of theft. Here are the common forms of theft crimes:
Larceny. When most people think of theft, they think of someone taking property that belongs to someone else, such as stealing a bicycle. This type of theft crime involves something that you don't currently have rightfully in your possession, and that doesn't belong to you. Shoplifting an item from a store is a common form of larceny.
Embezzlement. Another theft crime is known as embezzlement, which involves taking property that you already possess, but do not own. With embezzlement, a person who is entrusted to manage or control someone else's property uses that property inappropriately, and to the person's own benefit. An employee who uses company property for his personal projects commits embezzlement. Embezzlement can encompass both money and other forms of property.
Misappropriation. Misappropriation of funds is embezzlement of money only. For example, the treasurer of a club who diverts club funds to his own bank account has both embezzled and misappropriated the money.
Robbery. Be careful not to confuse larceny with robbery. Robbery is the forceful taking of someone else's property, by physical attack or restraint, or even by placing the owner in reasonable fear of imminent attack. Purse-snatching is a common form of robbery.
When prosecutors bring a charge of misappropriation, they must convince a judge or jury that the following happened or is true:
Depending on how the crime is charged, the state in which you live, and the circumstances of the case, a misappropriation of funds conviction can lead to significant penalties. States allow for both felony and misdemeanor charges for theft, embezzlement, and misappropriation crimes. What separates a misdemeanor offense from a felony offense often depends on the value of the funds that were misappropriated, though state statutes may also specify certain types of misappropriations as felonies or misdemeanors. For example, public employees who take public funds are often punished more harshly than private citizens.
Misappropriation of funds charges bring with them significant potential punishments, and anyone charged with this crime needs to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Only an attorney who is familiar with the laws of your state, the local courts, and the facts of your case is can provide you with legal advice. It's always in your best interests to speak to an attorney about your case as soon as you are charged or even investigated for the offense.