There are six types of employee theft:
- inventory theft
- service theft
- data theft
- money theft
- payroll theft
- time theft
Most people know employee theft as embezzlement. Embezzlement falls under the category of money theft and is defined as the fraudulent act of taking funds you are entrusted with as the employee of a business. For felony theft to classify as embezzlement, there must have been a fiduciary relationship in which the offender is entrusted with access to funds. For example, a cashier is entrusted with the money in their till. In this case, the cashier is accused of taking the funds entrusted in their care for personal use and gain.
The penalties for employee theft, or embezzlement, will vary based on the assessed value of what is stolen. Theft in the amount of $1,000 or less is typically classified as “petty theft,” a misdemeanor punishable by modest fines and jail time of a year or less. For larger amounts, the charge is usually “grand theft,” a felony offense carrying heavier fines and more prison time. And of course, you'll be expected to repay what you stole.
A crime of this nature, theft from a business, by someone in the business, is a very serious matter; and takes a lot of work to defend. The evidence is usually a few boxes full of paper, and it takes going through it all to be effective.
In theft from business cases, oftentimes an employee will admit to taking the money, but there will be a dispute as to how much money is stolen. My experience with these cases is that money is easily stolen because the business is being run poorly from a financial perspective. It takes far too long for the theft to be discovered. This brings up the issue of prescription, and, more importantly, the amount of money missing. If it takes a business a few years to discover that money is missing, the record-keeping is suspect, to say the least, and that poor record-keeping casts serious doubt on the amount of money stolen. Keeping in mind that most people will make insurance claims on the stolen money, and generally inflate the figures.
This is certainly not the case every time. Each and every criminal defense case is unique. A skilled criminal defense attorney is necessary to make sure the defendant does not get stuck with a crazy restitution.