Can I be charged with embezzlement ifI had permission to take company property and it never left the building?

I was told by my shop forman that I could have some scrap granite; I was making some vanitiess and the owner came in and saw what I was doing. He fired me and now is pressing charges of embezzlement. The shop foreman is saying he didn’t give the pieces because I don’t think that he had the authority to give them to me. I didn’t take the pieces and he sold them a week later. Is that still embezzlement and should Iget a criminal law attorney? I’m in Kent County, MI.

Asked on October 26, 2011 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First and foremost: if charges are actually pressed, then you must get an attorney--you can't take charges of theft lightly. Also, if charges are pressed or  your are arrested, don't speak to anyone, especially the police or prosecutor, about the charges until you speak to your lawyer.

Legally, if you had permission from someone who either had authority, or whom a reasonable person would conclude had authority, to grant that permission, it is not theft: not only is taking something you are given, by definition, not theft, but if with good cause you thought you had permission (even if, in fact, you did not), then you did not have the necessary criminal intent for it to be crime.

Factually, the issue may be proving you had permission, if the otther witness(es) claim that you did not.


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