One of the worst places to be accused of a crime is your workplace. As much as you depend on having a steady, successful career, that could all be washed away if you let theft charges go unanswered from a former employer. Not only could it spell the end of your time at your current job, but your career altogether. Luckily, with the right legal help, you can get past these tough times. Read on to learn more about:
The Main Crimes Associated with Stealing from the Workplace: Theft and Embezzlement;
Your Career After a Serious Accusation and How to Maintain Your Image; and
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney to Fight Against Charges.
A Look at Theft and Embezzlement: Separate Crimes, Similar Issues
Larceny and Theft are crimes linked through the act of depriving a person of their property, with theft specifically dealing more at a person’s intent.
The reason why theft accusations against an employee at a workplace are so tumultuous is because of their nature. Rather than being about something surface level, like job performance or professionalism, they invoke a question of your personal morals and integrity. Suddenly, all the connections you have made over the years may turn to mistrust at the flip of a switch based on one baseless accusation; it is scary to think about. More on this later.
There are many crimes and situations under the term “theft” that may apply to an accusation. In a workplace scenario, a simple theft charge may be the most relevant. These vary based on the amount stolen, how the accused committed the act, and their intent to do so; likewise, if you have prior theft charges, you will see a significantly higher penalty if convicted.
Another applicable crime may be embezzlement: a white-collar crime involving the abuse of financial relationship of a trustee and their fiduciary. This type of theft may be either very complicated or altogether quite simple. Any fiduciary—from investor, to attorney, to a parent looking over their child’s account—could commit embezzlement by mistake in certain situations (this is important to keep in mind in case someone accuses you).
Like other white-collar crimes, like types of fraud, embezzlement schemes come in all shapes and sizes, but what matters is the alleged return for the fiduciary’s benefit. Much like a theft charge, an accusation of embezzlement will have very noticeable and long-term effects on your career. It is important to do what you can to fight against these to avoid a conviction but to also know how to conduct yourself if accused at or in your workplace.
You Have Been Falsely Accused: Now What?
The impact of a false accusation may send shockwaves through your workplace, no matter the size. Of course, a smaller workplace—like a local shop or start-up—may spread the news faster than a larger one. This also depends on your own position and whether you have low, mid, or executive-level responsibilities.
An accusation may follow in a handful of ways. Your supervisor or boss may fire you on the spot and send you packing. In this case, leave and do not create a scene. The more attention you draw to yourself, the worse it looks on your part. There could also be an accusation followed by a suspension where you’re forced to leave work while your job investigates. In addition, there’s a chance your company calls the police.
Of course, a police officer can’t arrest you on the spot on a cold call without an investigation, but still: stay calm and keep your head on straight. Police showing up may be nerve-wracking and embarrassing (especially if it happens at your workplace). Still, it is very important that the one person you should speak to is your attorney. Not your employer, not security, not asset protection, and not the cops. Even if you didn't do anything wrong. The minute you start to get accused of something that serious you need to shut your mouth and contact an attorney. Especially if it's police. You do not need to "cooperate" you need to contact an attorney. The golden rule with cops is always to clearly and unequivocally say "I would like to speak with my attorney before I answer any questions."
Get a lawyer, do not answer any questions from police, do not get in a spat with your boss: let cooler heads prevail and handle the accusations as professionally as possible.
Once you go through the process of proving your case in court, you have options on the table. Lawsuits against your former employer may be on the table for defamation or wrongful termination.
Your Legal Options: From Defense and Onwards
When it comes to fighting a theft charge, it is best to tell your lawyer the full story and let them handle it. An accusation may come from anywhere: from out of thin air or even based on a misunderstanding. Experienced defense attorneys usually have connections to prosecutors, and those prosecutors may be handling your case. If there is a chance it can be explained, your lawyer will use their prior connections to your advantage.
Like we said before, there may already be an investigation underway by the time your employer levies the accusation. You do not want to wait for an arrest to decide if you need a lawyer. It is also important to note that hiring a lawyer never makes you look guilty. When your boss calls you in and lays out their accusation, end the conversation and avoid any statements they may use to incriminate you in the future.
An attorney can help secure your future, so you do not need to worry about future issues finding employment. If you contact our offices for a free initial consultation, we will get you started on your path back to professional life as soon as possible. Our attorneys prioritize your success more than anything. Freeing you of legal burdens is key to helping you preserve and grow your career. Are you accused of a crime at work? Call us today!