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Am I guilty of embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a serious charge, and is one of several non-violent crimes that can lead, in some cases, to many years behind bars for those convicted of it. If you recently received embezzlement charges, then you should carefully consider your actions going forward. Depending on the nature of the charges, there are a number of ways to defend against these accusations, but this depends greatly on the specific nature of your circumstances.

It is also possible that you do not yet face embezzlement charges, but may be under suspicion by your coworkers or superiors. If this is the case, you can examine your own behavior for any signs that those searching for embezzlers look for.

Often, embezzlers exhibit surprisingly protective behavior over their work, such as insisting on taking it home with them or consistently working overtime and refusing to take vacations. While this behavior does not always mean that an employee is embezzling, it may draw unwarranted accusations.

You may also have committed some relatively small violations that an employer is overly vigilant about disciplining. If you take office supplies home or occasionally dip into the petty cash, an aggressive employer or one that is on the warpath to identify an embezzling employee may see these actions as indications of more serious actions on your part.

Depending on the nature of your work and the structure of your industry, it may not even be apparent to you if you are technically doing something that constitutes embezzlement. Financial regulations are sometimes more complex than they are useful, and unless you fully understand them, you may accidentally take some action that could constitute embezzlement.

If you have any concerns about your actions or embezzlement charges, it is wise to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you look at all sides of the issue and devise a strategy for protecting your rights and freedoms against unfair or overly harsh charges.

Source: The Balance, "Detecting and Preventing Employee Theft and Embezzlement," Jean Murray, accessed July 28, 2017

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