Schemes involving fraud and
theft are serious crimes in the State of Florida. Even a conviction on the most
minor misdemeanor theft charge can result in jail time and probation,
and will prevent you from obtaining many jobs or holding professional
licenses. The punishment becomes more severe based on the amount of loss
in terms of the value of stolen goods. Incarceration can range from 60
days in jail to 30 years in prison. These crimes and other theft-related
offenses are covered under Florida Statutes 812.014 and 817.034.
Your Options During Investigation
Employers are extremely aggressive in preventing and prosecuting employee
theft. Internal company investigations often end in criminal prosecutions.
You need to know what to do if you are suspected of fraud or theft. Human
Resource Departments and Internal Security are trained by and in some
cases staffed by former police investigators. As private entities, companies
are not governed by the Constitution or State laws as they relate to questioning
employees. It is during this initial phase of the investigation that you
are most vulnerable.
Before You Talk, Consult a Sarasota Defense Attorney
A common practice by employers is to call the employee to the human resource
office and engage in questioning the concerning the allegations. If you
are suspected of theft or a related crime, it is in your best interests
not to say anything or sign anything without talking to a lawyer. The
employer may promise to go easy on you or not call the police if you admit
and promise to pay back the stolen money. This is a hollow promise since
the employer is not held to the same standards as police. The chances
are, your employment will be terminated regardless of whether or not you
sign a statement or give a confession.
Be Wary of Cover-Ups
It is also important to remember that many employers have insurance policies
that cover against losses resulting from theft. In some cases heavy financial
losses due to shoddy accounting practices or poor accounting procedures
are covered up with a theft claim. Once the prosecutor files criminal
charges, the insurance pays the employer to cover the loss. Be very wary
under these circumstances. Employees with poor performance records or
who may have filed a sexual discrimination or harassment claim are often
targeted in an effort to silence them. These are just a few reasons an
employer may wrongfully accuse an employee.
In addition to consulting with your criminal defense attorney, it is extremely
important that you document every instance in which you received permission
to take and receive funds or property. Provide names of co-workers who
might have witnessed the transaction as well as any other supporting evidence.
Many times an employer will attempt to intimidate or silence co-workers
who might damage their claim. An aggressive attorney can issue the necessary
subpoenas and file the appropriate motions to preserve such evidence and
protect your rights.
Is It Too Late to Take Action?
If you did not have the opportunity to consult with an experienced Sarasota
criminal lawyer before giving a statement to your employer or the police, all is not lost.
As I stated above, punishment in theft cases is often governed by the
amount of loss. If you do have the ability to pay, in may cases, the prosecutors
and/or the court may reduce any jail sentence and impose probation while
making restitution a condition.
Contact a Lawyer to Get Started!
I cannot stress enough how important it is to hire an experienced criminal
attorney at the earliest stages. Time is not on your side when facing
an employer determined to set an example and a prosecutor looking to score
a conviction. Do not be afraid. Do not be intimidated. Exercise your right
to remain silent and right to an attorney
call my office immediately. I will go to bat for you.