blog Theft Crime Employee Theft Allegations: Implications and Legal Options

Employee Theft Allegations: Implications and Legal Options

By Colorado Attorney-at-law on March 20, 2024

Workplace employee theft presents a widespread challenge for businesses. It includes various theft activities, and motivations behind such actions range from financial strain to personal gain or dissatisfaction. Both minor pilfering and complex schemes can result in significant economic losses for employers, impacting their income and eroding trust within the organization.

Detecting instances of theft can be difficult, as perpetrators often employ sophisticated methods to conceal their actions. Preventative measures typically involve implementing strict security protocols, fostering a culture of honesty, and conducting routine audits. Addressing employee theft requires a comprehensive approach that balances deterrence with fair treatment and opportunities for rehabilitation.

What Is Employee Theft?

Employee theft is the unauthorized taking of a company’s assets or resources by an employee for personal gain. It encompasses various forms, notably stealing merchandise, embezzlement, and fraud. Stealing merchandise involves physically pilfering items from inventory, while embezzlement entails misappropriating funds or assets entrusted to one’s care. Fraud involves deceit to obtain money or goods illegally.

The reasons that motivate employees to commit theft vary but often involve financial pressure, personal financial struggles, disgruntlement with working conditions or perceived injustices, addiction issues, or simply opportunity-driven behavior.

Legal Implications for Employers and Employees

Employee theft can lead to serious legal repercussions, and employers faced with workplace theft have the right to conduct thorough investigations, ensuring fairness and confidentiality. The investigation may involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and maintaining proper documentation. If theft is confirmed, termination is likely justified per employment contracts and labor laws. Sometimes, the employer may be required to cooperate with a criminal investigation into the theft allegations.

It is important to note that employers are not legally obligated to uphold an employee’s due process rights to the same extent as a government entity. Employers can potentially violate an employee’s rights when investigating workplace theft. For instance, when an employer decides to investigate a theft, the employee’s right to privacy may be at risk.

An employee accused of theft potentially faces severe penalties. In Colorado, the person committing acts of theft — which encompasses embezzlement and similar acts — is prosecuted based on the stolen property’s worth. Penalties depend on the specifics of each case:

  • Property worth $50 or less leads to a minor offense, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $500.
  • For property valued between $50 and $300, the crime is a minor misdemeanor, with potential jail time of up to 180 days and fines of up to $750.
  • Valuables between $300 and $750 result in a higher misdemeanor, possibly landing the accused in jail for up to 12 months and fines up to $1,000.
  • Property valued between $750 and $2,000 will lead to a more serious misdemeanor charge, with penalties of up to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
  • For valuables worth $2,000 to $5,000, the theft is charged as a felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and fines of $100,000.
  • Property valued between $5,000 and $20,000 follows similar penalties.

Challenges in Employee Theft Cases

Employee theft cases present various challenges, including complexities in investigation and prosecution. Factors such as evidence collection, chain of custody issues, and potential biases in the workplace can complicate matters. False accusations also pose a significant challenge, highlighting the importance of conducting fair and thorough investigations.

Strategies for Defense and Resolution

Defending against employee theft allegations requires strategic approaches from experienced attorneys, including the ability to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and witness testimony. A skilled Breckenridge theft defense lawyer can provide legal guidance to employers and help navigate the complexities of employee theft cases.

Additionally, exploring options for resolution, such as restitution, plea bargains, or alternative dispute resolution methods, can mitigate the impact of allegations on both parties involved. Cooperation with legal counsel and adherence to legal procedures are essential.

Role of a Breckenridge Theft Defense Attorney

Employee theft allegations carry significant implications for both employers and employees. A criminal defense lawyer plays a vital role in assisting employees in responding to employee theft allegations. An attorney can defend the employee’s due process rights, strengthen defenses, and negotiate a fair resolution.

If you’re facing employee theft allegations, an experienced Summit County criminal defense attorney can help you understand your legal rights and advise you on how to best respond to accusations. The lawyers at our Colorado firm are here to provide legal assistance and support throughout the process. Contact Whitaker & Penix, LLC at (970) 368-0602 for a free consultation.

Posted in: Theft Crime