Employee embezzlement can show up in many different ways– profit margins decreasing, inventory going missing, odd expenses showing up, or skewed financial records. This can be a big hit for your business, especially if you’re small or a start-up. Not only does embezzling hurt your bottom line and tank your chances for success, but it can also feel like a stab in the back when an employee you’ve worked with and respected for years is disloyal. Today, the Law Office of John Teakell in Dallas is going to tell you exactly how to identify embezzlement in the workplace and what your next steps should be.
Texas Employee Embezzlement Laws
Before we get into the punishment your employee may be in for if they’re found guilty of embezzling, let’s talk about your legal rights and limitations when it comes to employee privacy. So, what are you not allowed to do?
- Wiretap or record a discussion without the individual’s consent or approval from the court
- Listen to video camera audio unless the employees were told about the surveillance
- Use aggressive interrogation techniques
These are the most common things business owners do when investigating embezzlement, but if you’d like help outlining a strategy that works and won’t get you into trouble, give us a call.
How to Prove Employee Embezzlement
The first thing you need to when you suspect an employee of stealing from you is to investigate and document your findings. You can’t take someone to court and recoup your losses over speculation so you’ll need to spend time combing through documents, checking cameras, taking inventory, or using some other method to determine without a doubt that there some wrongdoing took place.
Embezzlement Statute of Limitations in Texas
In most cases, the statute of limitations for embezzlement is four years. However, under certain circumstances, this statute of limitations may be raised to 10 years. Regardless, you’ll want to begin your investigation promptly so you don’t run out of time.
By now you’re probably wondering where to even start with an embezzlement investigation. If you have a small business, you can start looking for evidence yourself. However, if you own a mid-sized, multi-location business or an enterprise, we recommend hiring a trained forensic accountant to help. They will know exactly where to look, not to mention provide fresh eyes and objectivity.
Once you’ve gone through the data, reports, video, and any other documentation you have– look for witnesses. Conduct one-on-one interviews to see if anyone noticed anything suspicious. Ensure that you do this discreetly so those who disclose sensitive information won’t fear retaliation for speaking up. This isn’t meant to be an interrogation or a confession either so be sure that your tone and questioning style reflects that this is simply you asking for help.
Whether or not you find what you’re looking for, you should take all of the information you’ve compiled to a Dallas embezzlement attorney like John R. Teakell to determine next steps. If you’ve identified a problem, your lawyer can help you take your employee to court and attempt to recoup any financial losses or stolen inventory. If you were mistaken, this is also a good time to discuss protocols and embezzlement prevention procedures to protect your company as it continues to grow.
Punishment for Embezzlement in Texas
Texas considers embezzlement a form of theft and punishes it accordingly. If your staff steals cash, goods, or services intentionally they can be fined and sent to prison. The punishment for embezzlement is set based on either the dollar amount or the value of whatever your employee stole.
|Amount Stolen||Fine||Potential Jail Time|
|$100 or less||Up to $500||None|
|$150-$750||Up to $2,000||Less than 6 months|
|$750-$2,500||Up to $4,000||Up to 1 year|
|$2,500-$30,000||Up to $10,000||6 months–2 years|
|$30,000-$150,000||Up to $10,000||2-10 years|
|$150,000-$300,000||Up to $10,000||2-20 years|
|$300,000+||Up to $10,000||2-99 years|
Dallas white collar crime attorney– Get your money back post-embezzlement
There are various ways to get restitution from an employee that embezzled from you. If you’d like to learn more about your options or begin the process, call Dallas attorney John R. Teakell. With years of experience as a white collar criminal defense lawyer and a federal prosecutor, he knows what it takes to hold those who are guilty of a crime accountable for their actions. Call (214) 523-9076 today to start planning a prosecution strategy and preventing something like this from ever happening again.