Criminal Law

What Is Misappropriation Of Property? What Are The Remedies Available To You?

Misappropriation Of Property

Meet Jared works as a financial advisor to the ABC group of companies. He manages the financial records of the company. He also maintains the payroll and the necessary monetary transactions. Over time he gains the trust of his employers and figures out the workings of the business. Jared does something unethical. Covertly, he uses company funds for personal gain. He creates a false list of employees and hands out salaries to them while pocketing it himself.

Jared has just committed misappropriation of property. If we are being specific, we would have to say that Jared has committed embezzlement of company funds. Embezzlement is a type of misappropriation of assets.

In this article, we will be talking in detail about what is misappropriation of property. We will touch upon its necessary elements and other important details.

What Is Misappropriation of Property?

Misappropriation of property is a legal phrase that you probably do not use too much in your daily life. However, we are all familiar with the concept. It is a legal phrase that can apply to multiple contexts. Be it lost property, personal belongings, or even non-tangible forms like intellectual property.

The Misappropriation of property is simply when one illegally uses something that is not in their ownership. This means if you unlawfully use the property of others without their permission or knowledge, it is misappropriation of that property.


This word means to wrongfully use or misuse something that belongs to another. The use should happen in a way that goes against the goodwill or interests of the true owner. Misappropriation happens without consent. Lastly, misappropriation leads to the personal gain of the one using the property.


In misappropriation of one’s “property”, the definition of property typically includes the following.

  • Assets.
  • Belongings.
  • All things that have financial value.

It includes both physical and non-physical assets.

Types Of Property

The types of property that are eligible for misappropriation include the following.

Tangible Property

All assets that you can touch or see fall under this category. This list includes real estate, cars, gadgets, jewelry, and the like.

Intangible Property

This type includes property that you cannot see or touch. For example, patents, stocks, copyrights, bonds, and trademarks.

Financial Property

Financial property has monetary value. Your cash, stocks, bank accounts, and investments all fall under this category.

What Are The Necessary Elements Of A Misappropriation?

There have to be certain elements present for an act to be misappropriation of property. Let us go through them one by one.

Unlawful Taking Of The Property

According to the law, one needs to acquire or be in possession of a property without its owner’s consent. If the owner has given consent to its use, it is no longer misappropriation.

There has To Be Intent

The misappropriation should come with the intentions to use, possess, or misuse the property. This use should happen in a manner that goes against the rights and interests of the owner.

No Ownership, No Misappropriation

The property in question should not belong to the person misappropriating but to another individual. The misappropriator should not have the legal right to use the property.

The Misappropriator Should Carry Out The Deed With Knowledge

In order to make it a misappropriation, the person should use the property with complete knowledge. This means that the person knows that their actions are wrongful and that the property’s true owner is someone else.

Misappropriator Should Use or Control The Property

There has to be use, control, or misuse of the property by the misappropriator. They may use it for personal gain or to get permanent control of property rights.

This Use Should Lead To The Deprivation of The Owner’s Rights

The misappropriator should cause harm to the owner’s rights to their property. Their use or misuse should cause financial loss or loss of access to the property. The use can also lead to the depreciation to the value of the property’s value.

What Is The Misappropriation of Lost Property?

If a person comes across a lost property and starts using it as their own, it would be illegal and unethical. The lost property can be a wallet, a mobile phone, or other items. Ideally, it is one’s moral and legal duty to take all efforts to return it to its true owner. 

If they do not return it, it will be a form of misappropriation. If the owner finds out, it could lead to legal consequences.

What Is The Misappropriation of Resident Property?

There are certain situations where one has the responsibility to handle another person’s property. They are to act in a professional or caregiving capacity in such circumstances. 

However, if they start using such property for personal use or misuse, it will be misappropriation of resident property.

What Is Misappropriation of Intellectual Property?

Misappropriation of intellectual property is the unauthorized use of property to which another has intellectual ownership rights. This includes the illegal reproduction or distribution of someone else’s copyrighted works. 

Practically, if you are using the trademarked and patented property of another, they can file a lawsuit against you.

What Are The Remedies Available Against Misappropriation of Property?

Victims of misappropriation of property also have remedies available. These remedies can vary by the degree of damage to their property and the jurisdiction of law. These can be civil remedies like payment of restitution to the victim to cover for damages to the property. The victim may also choose to carry out a civil lawsuit against the misappropriator. The court can order damages to the victim if the judge deems fit.

When misappropriation of property leads to criminal charges as a result of theft, embezzlement, or fraud, the victim can take the help of law enforcement. Depending on how severe the charges are, the misappropriator can face penalties like fines, probation, or even imprisonment.

To Conclude

Now that we have reached the end of this article let us have a quick little recap. The United States has laws that declare strict penalties for all crimes. The illegal act of misappropriation of property is no different. 

These laws address misappropriation through provisions against theft, embezzlement, larceny, etc. However, these laws are not exhaustive. Similar crimes will find penalties under these laws even if there is no written mention. 

Therefore, these laws act as a preventative measure to stop the taking, use, or possession of another’s property.

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Debkanya Bhattacharya
Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.

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