Differences Between Embezzlement, Larceny, & False Pretenses

Because embezzlement, larceny, and false pretenses are all crimes which involve different aspects of dishonesty and theft, they oftentimes get confused with one another. However, embezzlement, larceny, and false pretenses are all different crimes which carry different potential punishments.

Embezzlement

This typically involves the defendant being in a position of trust and then using that trust to manipulate the situation and wrongfully take property, for himself or others, through deceptive means. Typically, someone accused of embezzlement is being accused of withholding assets (usually financial in nature) for the purpose of theft. In order to be considered embezzlement, one or more parties must have placed the defendant in a position of trust with their assets. These assets must have been intended to be used for a specific purpose but were instead stolen by the embezzler.

One example of embezzling could be a financial advisor taking funds from his clients that were intended to be invested in stocks and instead using those funds for his own personal gain.

Larceny

Embezzlement is different from larceny in two main ways. When it comes to embezzlement:

  1. First, the embezzler must actually steal something. The intention of conversion (theft) is not enough to be found guilty of embezzlement.
  2. The original taking of assets can’t be trespassory. This means that the embezzler originally had the right to possess the assets which were later embezzled.

With larceny neither of the above two stipulations are required. Larceny is simply the nonviolent theft and carrying away of personal property. Larceny specifically refers only to actual physical property that a person can pick up, move, and take away.

False Pretenses

False pretenses also involves dishonesty except, in this case, it refers to obtaining property by intentionally misrepresenting a certain fact about the past or present. This means that if the person thinks what they are saying is true (even though in reality it is false) it cannot be considered false pretenses. Also, unlike larceny, false pretenses is not necessarily dependent on tangibility. Rather, it can apply to any property, money, goods, services, or basically anything else of value. One simple example of false pretenses would be making it seem to a seller like you have funds available in your bank account in order to get them to sell you something when, in fact, you know there are no funds in your bank account.

If you are being charged with embezzlement, larceny, or false pretenses, contact David M. Dudley today. Mr. Dudley is a Harvard educated federal and state criminal defense attorney who is ready to help you. Call 800-805-6167 for a free case evaluation.