What constitutes embezzlement?

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What constitutes embezzlement?

I recently did a fundraiser on my own accord for a non-profit organization. At the event I accepted 2 checks made out to me for the fundraiser. When I deposited these checks, they both bounced and my bank charged me fees which made other personal transactions bounce. It caused a huge chain reaction in my account. My husband has been laid off and we have not been able to recoup from this. I have not sent the money that was raised ($1,081) to the organization but I have remained in contact and explained the situation. They are threatening embezzlement charges. Can I be in trouble for this?

Asked on December 9, 2010 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The short answer is yes. Whether it's "embezzlement" or "conversion" or any of a number of different types of theft (which all vary by the exact circumstances), you are keeping money that does not belong to you. Regardless of your situation and however blameless you may be morally, you have no right to hold onto that money. If you do, you may be sued in civil court; it's also possible that if referred to the police, you could face criminal charges. It would be one thing if the organization agreed to give you time to repay the funds, but they do not have to give you this time--they can demand it back immediately if they want, and if you don't comply, you'll have to face the consequences.


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