You may have never intended to commit a crime, but a financial emergency or difficult situation convinced you to take from your employer “just this once.” It could be easy to become caught up in a cycle of taking and justifying, especially if you feel your employers have more money than they need. Many Californians who are discovered embezzling from their employers never meant to cause harm, but found themselves in a vicious cycle that became more difficult to escape from as time went on.
As we have discussed in previous blogs, embezzlement is defined as the misuse of privilege or position, or the misappropriation of funds or property to which you were placed in a position of trust and authority. Some of the common ways employees might embezzle from their employers include the following:
- Taking money from the petty cash envelope
- Pocketing money instead of placing it in a cash register or safe
- Giving customers an incorrect amount of change
- Forging company checks and cashing them
- Putting a nonexistent employee on the payroll
Often, an employee begins embezzling with the intent of doing it for a short time, taking the first step because of a financial hardship. In MarketWatch, a woman explained her experience of embezzling almost $350,000 from her employer before she was discovered and convicted. She said that originally, she took small amounts of cash to help her son with financial troubles. As she grew bolder and tried to feel justified in taking a little extra from her wealthy employers, she took larger amounts, mainly using it to assist other family members and friends financially. She explained that although she felt smart and powerful while doing it, she also felt terrible for betraying her employers. After serving her sentence, she talks about her experience to public groups and vows never to do it again.
You may be a good person who made a poor decision, or your employer may have falsely accused you of stealing when someone else was to blame. No matter the situation, the law entitles you to a competent defense.