What distinguishes embezzlement from larceny?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2022 | White Collar Crimes

Accusations of theft take many forms depending on how the defendant supposedly committed the act. Two types of illegal property seizure are larceny and embezzlement.

If a person faces theft charges, the individual should consider the consequences of the specific accusation.


Larceny involves taking another person’s property with the intention of depriving the individual of it. Such theft includes knowingly purchasing stolen items.

In Texas, larceny can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony, which is standard for theft charges. Prosecutors make the determination based on the stolen amount and surrounding circumstances. Penalties can be as little as a fine of a few hundred dollars up to decades of prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.


Embezzling refers to a person who had legal access to another person’s property or money but did not have ownership and seized some or all of the property for personal gain. The term distinguishes itself from other forms of theft by including the violation of trust. An employee who transfers company funds to a personal account could face an embezzlement charge, as can a cashier who takes money from a register.

As with other theft charges, prosecutors may enhance embezzlement charges from a misdemeanor to the level of a felony under specific circumstances. Prior charges, previous convictions or theft from a nonprofit can lead to elevated charges, as can stealing from a person 65 or older. Stealing from the government also enhances theft charges.

Embezzlement and larceny are different in practice because embezzlement includes the element of violated trust. While penalties are similar, the circumstances of embezzling may introduce unique factors that quickly escalate possible penalties.