Penal offence other than theft but similar

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maraki

Member
Greece
Hello dear all,

the term I am looking for is legal, but I am sure that most native English speakers are familiar with it, even if they do not have a legal background.

I am looking for the word that stands for the following penal offence (is it common to use "penal offence" by the way?).

Someone has in his possession an object, which does not belong to him, but he holds legally, as a keeper of it (i.e. a valuable ring). At some point he desides to keep it as if it were his own, that is to appropriate it, without, of course, paying its price. That, in Greece, constitutes a penal offence (other than theft or larceny).

My dictionary translates the word I am looking for as: embezzlement, defalcation, misappropriation.

Does any of these represent the offence I am looking for? Is there another more used word for it?

I am indebted for your help!
 
  • fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    maraki said:
    Someone has in his possession an object, which does not belong to him, but he holds legally, as a keeper of it (i.e. a valuable ring). At some point he desides to keep it as if it were his own, that is to appropriate it, without, of course, paying its price. That, in Greece, constitutes a penal offence (other than theft or larceny).

    My dictionary translates the word I am looking for as: embezzlement, defalcation, misappropriation.
    I had no idea that this concept even existed until I googled it! Thanks for helping me fill one of the many holes in my learning (© 2005, Artrella).

    Some suggestions:
    theft by taking (source)
    taking property without right (source)
    misappropriation is the appropriate word if the property was entrusted to the person by his employer or by the government and he employs it for personal use. (source)
    to embezzle is to secretly steal money from the employer and put it in a personal account. It doesn't usually apply to physical property.
    I've never heard defalcation.

    I think that penal offence/offense is OK, because it's understandable. In the U.S., I might hear an illegal action described as a crime, a criminal offense, a misdemeanor (minor) or a felony (serious).

    Hope this helps.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Taking is the closest thing to a common word, and it's usually found in the phrase "wrongful taking." Misappropriation is readily understood, but tends to be specifically monetary in reference, as "misappropriation of funds."

    "Taking under false pretenses" is a common elaboration, and the adverbial phrase can be used with any verb of taking or holding, to indicate your "penal offense" in common language.

    Re "penal offense," it's correct but a little arcane, and I think you do want ordinary language here. We use the word "borrowing" in quotes, or inflected ironically when spoken-- that's as close as I can come. Say "borrow" and indicate your irony with decorum, don't go into fits of eye-rolling or pantomime elbow-nudging-- and you ought to communicate this gray area of theft to any listener. In writing, as I say, just use quotation marks.

    It turns out he'd only "borrowed" that pile of lumber he sold me. "Found" also works.

    Another problem with "penal offense" is that most wrongful takings aren't-- they are dealt with in civil litigation, if at all. In practical terms, it's a "finders keepers" world we live in, right?
     

    maraki

    Member
    Greece
    Thanks a lot, guys!

    I am actually going to use the word in a written document (extra-legal) but aiming at
    convincing the appropriator to return the object or pay for it. Otherwise we'll simply take him to court (and that'll be in Greek, so I do not have to worry about the English terms there).

    Thanks again!
     
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