The defendant argues, and the Court of Appeals agreed, that there was not sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of embezzlement because the evidence did not show the defendant came into possession of the draft lawfully. This is an element which must be proved in order to convict a person of embezzlement. State v. Speckman, 326 N.C. 576, 391 S.E.2d 165 (1990); State v. Griffin, 239 N.C. 41, 79 S.E.2d 230 (1953).
We believe the evidence showed the defendant came into possession of the draft lawfully so far as Ms. McCoy was concerned and that he wrongfully converted it to his own use. The defendant was the agent of Ms. McCoy with authority to negotiate the settlement of her claim. If he obtained the draft by a misrepresentation to State Farm that Ms. McCoy would accept the offer of settlement, he may have been guilty of obtaining property by a false pretense as to State Farm, but he was still the agent of Ms. McCoy and in possession of the draft as her agent. At that point, Ms. McCoy had the right to ratify the act of her agent and accept the draft. McCrillis v. Enterprises, 270 N.C. 637, 155 S.E.2d 281 (1967). The defendant so far had not committed any fraudulent act toward Ms. McCoy. She owned an interest in the draft in that she could, by accepting State Farm’s offer, be entitled to the draft. The defendant, so far as Ms. McCoy was concerned, was in lawful possession of the draft in which she had a legal interest. When he converted it to his own use he was guilty of embezzlement. We believe that the relationship between the principal and agent governs as to whether the possession of the property was lawfully gained. Lawful possession does not depend on the relation between the agent and a third party.
The defendant says that because he received the draft from State Farm with instructions to hold it until Ms. McCoy signed the release he was acting as an agent for State Farm, holding the draft in escrow for State Farm until the release was signed. He says the title to the draft remained in State Farm and did not pass to Ms. McCoy. For this reason, he could not have em*512bezzled the draft from Ms. McCoy. Whatever the relationship between the defendant and State Farm as to title to the draft, Ms. McCoy had sufficient property interest in the draft so that the defendant could have embezzled it from her.
For the reasons stated in this opinion, we reverse the Court of Appeals and remand for remand to Superior Court, Sampson County for the reinstatement of the sentence.
REVERSED AND REMANDED.
Chief Justice Exum did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.