Employee theft is a widespread problem across the United States. In fact, U.S. businesses lose about $50 billion annually because of this crime, including the cost of employee theft prosecution. If you do not want to be part of these statistics, learn more about this crime and how you can take legal action against employee theft.
Employee Theft Explained
In Florida, theft is a crime where a person knowingly acquires the property of another with the goal of benefitting himself or depriving the owner of a right to the property. Under Section 812.014 of the Florida Statutes, theft occurs when someone temporarily or permanently:
- “Deprive[s] the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property [of another];” or
- “Appropriate[s] the property [of another] to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the property;” or
- “Endeavors to” commit either of these acts, even if they do not succeed in doing so
When the act is committed by an employee in the workplace or while performing his duties, the crime is employee theft. Strictly speaking, there is no crime of employee theft in the Florida law. It only defines theft and classifies it into grand theft or petit theft. The crime would be considered grand theft if the value of the property stolen is $300 or more, while it would be petit theft if the property that was stolen is worth at least $100 but not more than $300.
The term “employee theft” only denotes that there is an employer-employee relationship between the offender and the victim. It is often interchanged with embezzlement since appropriating company funds entrusted to an employee is the most common way of committing employee theft.
Consequences of Employee Theft
Taking legal action against employee theft is vital because it is a serious problem that affects many businesses. According to the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC), about 75% of employees have stolen from their workplace at least once. As written in an article by the International Foundation for Protection Officers, about half of that number do it again and even repeatedly. Studies have found that employee theft as the cause of “as much as 30% of all business failures.” This makes small- and medium-size entrepreneurs susceptible.
Employee theft is likely to involve the theft of larger amounts of money than with ordinary theft. This is because the offender has easier access to money and other property. Suspicions of theft by employees, or the confirmation of such suspicions, may strain the level of trust that employers have in them. However, employers themselves are not free of the same suspicion: managers account for 37% of employee theft cases.
Employee Theft Prosecution in Florida
Law enforcement is also serious when it comes to employee theft prosecution. Depending on the value of the property stolen, the court may impose a penalty of imprisonment for five years at the minimum and 30 years at the most, and payment of fines ranging from $5,000 up to $10,000. The judge may also order the convicted defendant to return whatever they stole.
This means that an accusation as serious as employee theft needs to be dealt with immediately to prevent further damage to your reputation and avoid conviction. If you or a loved one face charges of employee theft, you need to make sure you have a skilled Florida fraud crime lawyer on your side to help you take legal action against employee theft. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. to find an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in Broward County. Call us today at 954-462-1005 for a free consultation.