Steps to Take if Falsely Accused of Theft at Work

Posted: 05.18.2021
Employee theft is a serious issue that affects companies of all sizes. In reality, many people are unaware of how serious the implications of these crimes are and how they impact the economy as a whole. For example, employee theft accounted for over 42 percent of all product losses in US stores last year, according to Statistic Brain. It also accounts for 33% of all bankruptcies in the United States and costs employers an average of $50 billion a year.
With that said, being wrongly accused of theft can be a very stressful experience that can damage your reputation and limit your employment opportunities in the future, which is why it’s important to contact an experienced theft crimes attorney as soon as the accusation is made before the situation escalates any further.
Taking that into account, here is a quick guide on how to navigate this situation and how you should proceed when wrongly accused of theft at work.

Understanding Theft in the Workplace
First things first, it’s important to understand the key distinctions between theft, shoplifting, and fraud, so you know what you are going to be faced with. Here are a few of the most common types of employee theft:
  • Larceny: Taking money or property from the business. This includes everything from stealing money from the cash register to merchandise from the loading dock. 
  • Embezzlement: Theft of money or goods by someone in a trusted position, such as a bookkeeper or a senior executive.
  • Billing Schemes: Creating a fictitious vendor account and billing the vendor (who is simply an employee) for products or services that do not exist.
  • Time Theft: This offense is committed by using company time to perform personal business, and it is one of the most frequent types of employee fraud.
  • Information Theft: Revealing confidential information to a rival, such as client lists or trade secrets.
In general, theft or fraud resulting in damages of less than $5,000 is unlikely to result in harsh punishment, while anything over $5,000 may result in a prison term. On the other hand, employee theft is treated more harshly by the judiciary as employees are in a position of power, and as a result, often face a harsher sentence than someone who shoplifts, for example.

Consequences of a Workplace Theft Charge
Being accused of theft at work has many consequences, whether you’re guilty or not. The most obvious consequence is, of course, losing your job. When an employer accuses you of theft, your position usually becomes untenable, and they will likely fire or suspend you while an investigation takes place.

Most of the time, this will leave you without an income and a tarnished reputation. Unfortunately, because you will have been terminated from your position, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to secure a reference from your employer, which will make it doubly hard to find a new job.

In some cases, people who have been wrongly accused and acquitted have still been unable to resume their old job and have been unsuccessful at finding new employment. In these instances, there have been successful lawsuits against the accuser, such as Douglas McNeil, who received $2.1 million for allegedly stealing less than $200.

Steps to Take If You Are Falsely Accused of a Crime
Here are the steps you need to follow when wrongly accused to help fight the situation:

Realize the seriousness of the accusation.
You need to understand the penalties you may face and the consequences of being accused of such a crime. Just because you are innocent doesn’t mean everyone else will see it that way, so you need to take the accusation seriously from the start to have the best chance of a successful defense.

Understand the cost of a defense.
Building a defense comes with many costs, such as attorney fees, investigation costs, and other costs that you need to pay.

The benefits of enlishing the help of a defense attorney.
There are no two ways about it; you’re going to need expert help to get you out of this situation. Hiring a defense attorney may even prevent criminal charges from being brought against you in the first place, so it’s well within your best interest to get one on board from the very start of the process. They will also help you gather any physical evidence and documents that will help you build your case.

The investigation.
Your lawyer will investigate the crime and the prosecutor’s evidence thoroughly, interview witnesses, and, if possible, hire expert witnesses to help strengthen your case. An investigation will aid in determining the prosecutor’s case and the defense’s strengths and weaknesses.

Plea bargain.
Finally, sometimes it’s better to admit defeat and secure a plea bargain. If you are innocent, this may sound terribly unjust, but it is important to see the situation critically and not let your feelings influence your decisions. Suppose your counsel determines that you have a poor case after reviewing the facts against you. In that case, they can recommend that you sign a plea deal to avoid a conviction, a longer punishment, and a lifelong criminal record.
Written By: Douglas Parker

Douglas handles content management and communications for Manshoory Law Group, APC
. He has always had a special interest in the sphere of Law and Human Rights. Dedicating a lot of his free time to understanding the small details and specifics of these fields, Douglas enjoys exploring and analyzing them in his articles. His main goal is to make this sometimes complicated information available and transparent for everyone
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