Many people in Michigan may have heard on the news of people being charged with embezzlement. For example, a cashier may have stolen from the register or an accountant may have misappropriated funds.

In general, embezzlement is a theft crime in which someone in a possession of responsibility over another’s assets steals the assets for their own use. It is prima facie proof of intent to embezzle if the accused does not return the assets to their rightful owner when asked to. Michigan statutes recognize different types of embezzlement based on who the accused is or what assets were stolen.

It is fairly easy to see how someone such as a store clerk placed in responsibility of the business’s cash drawer or an accountant who manages someone else’s funds could be accused of embezzlement. However, can you commit embezzlement if you are part-owner of the assets at issue? The answer may surprise you.

In Michigan, if you have control of assets that belong partly to you and partly to another person or legal entity and you take those assets for your own use or disposes of them fraudulently and without the consent of the other owner this could be considered embezzlement. Thus, even if someone is partial owner of assets they are in control of, they could still commit embezzlement.

Embezzlement is a very serious crime. While each case is unique, those found guilty of embezzlement can face stiff fines and even imprisonment. Thus, those in Michigan accused of embezzlement will want to take the steps necessary to develop a solid defense strategy.