In general, embezzlement occurs when a person who has lawful possession of another's money or property fraudulently converts that money or property. In other words, the wrongdoer, often an employee, trustee, fiduciary, or agent, acquires possession of the property lawfully and then converts the property to his or her own use. The principal distinction between embezzlement and larceny is that in instances of embezzlement, the property is already in the embezzler's possession. In instances of larceny, the property is in another's possession. A less important distinction is that larceny requires only a slight movement of the property, but embezzlement requires a conversion of the property-such as the sale of embezzled property or the spending of embezzled money.
For a conversion to constitute embezzlement, the wrongdoer must intend to defraud the rightful owner of the property. Innocent conversions do not qualify, as when a person honestly believes he or she has a right to convert another's property.
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