Have you been blamed for embezzling or stealing in the workplace? If so, you must be wondering what to do when accused of embezzlement. Continue reading this article to get answers from veteran white collar criminal defense lawyers at the Neal Davis Law Firm.
First, you should know that such an accusation, whether true or false, can lead to a felony embezzlement charge based on state laws, federal laws or both. As for Texas embezzlement laws, they are grouped under the category of “theft.”
Second, be aware of the exact nature of the embezzlement allegation against you. You should know precisely what you’re accused of embezzling or taking by fraud, larceny, stealing or trickery — and if it’s funds, how much.
But here’s where you should exercise extreme caution:
When you’re accused, your employer likely will want an “interview” with you to confront you with the presumed facts of his or her claim. At that point, you should indicate that you want your lawyer present for such a process.
You can say this even if you don’t yet have a lawyer. Then go hire one — preferably by contacting the Neal Davis Law Firm to get an embezzlement lawyer for Houston, Harris County, Montgomery County or Fort Bend County.
Keep in mind that anything you say to your employer might be used against you later in court if your case goes to trial. So be sure to get an experienced attorney before saying anything to your employer or accuser.
Even at that point, your attorney may advise you to say nothing to your employer, but rather simply to hear the nature of the accusation. Either way, a knowledgeable embezzlement defense lawyer may be able to resolve the matter without your employer reporting it to the police.
For instance, if a certain amount of merchandise is involved, your defense attorney can arrange to have it returned to the employer and thus avoid a report to police or criminal charge.
If a criminal charge does ensue, your lawyer may be able to get the charge reduced or even dropped so you don’t have to face jail time. That may mean arranging to get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor. It also may mean substituting community service for jail time.
In Texas, a misdemeanor embezzlement charge for theft of under $1,500 may lead to a small fine and a jail sentence of at most one year. The most serious charge — a first-degree embezzlement felony involving theft of over $200,000 — may involve fines of up to $200,000 and a prison sentence of five to 99 years.
As you can see, reducing your charge is very important to avoid hefty fines and lengthy jail time.
Not only that, but if the charge can be reduced to a minor offense, it may mean you’ll have no criminal charge against you on your record. Having a criminal record can greatly hamper your employment opportunities, among other things.
Your defense attorney will need to know everything about you so he or she may be able to argue that the embezzlement was a misunderstanding or a one-time event which will not happen again.
Perhaps you took money or merchandise from an employer because you faced a serious financial setback. That can be taken into account as a survival motive.
Or, if you took from your employer to finance an addiction to drugs or gambling, your defense attorney may be able to arrange help for you to handle such crises, perhaps through counseling or therapy. That can demonstrate you want to proceed in good faith and may limit your exposure to criminal charges.
In any event, you should reach out to a defense lawyer immediately when accused of embezzlement.