Can I be charged with theft of funds if I did not know about the shortage? 47 Answers as of July 03, 2013

My employer accused me of theft. It was said that my revenue bags was short on a variety of occasions. When said bags was checked it was said to be short on four different incidents totaling $43. I had no knowledge of shortage until a couple of days after my reliefs told me they discovered extra money in the back of the register drawer. I was given the funds and remitted what I was given as possible shortage. My employer still wants to charge me as theft of funds. Is that possible to charge me with theft? I had no knowledge of shortage until my reliefs brought it to my attention.

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Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
Usually, for you to have committed a crime, you will have done it with an intent to take the money. If you lacked the intent to take the money, no crime was committed by you.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 12/14/2011
Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
Theft is a specific intent crime. If you did not intend or know of the shortage, your employer may have difficulty pursuing the charges.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 12/6/2011
Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
It is possible but the authorities - police in investigating and DA's office in making a decision on whether to accept charging - will require evidence.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 12/5/2011
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
You can be charged but they do not have enough evidence to convict you at trial unless you make an admission or they have some other evidence that shows that you took the money as opposed to making an error.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/2/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I would advise you to retain a lawyer. If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, you should consult privately with an attorney. Most attorneys provide free initial consultations. Speaking generally, simply because someone is alleging they want to press charges or request charges does not mean that charges will actually filed. First, the police need to conduct their own research, do their own investigation, and interview potential witnesses and the victim. Even after the police department files the initial report with the prosecutor's office, an attorney with the prosecutor's office will need to thoroughly review the documents and determine whether they can even bring charges in good faith. Even after all these steps, simply because a person is charged does not mean they are guilty of anything or that they will be convicted. Anyone charged with an offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. State of mind and intent, with the exception of certain types of criminal offenses known as "strictly liability crimes" is always an issue. A majority of criminal offenses require at least some evidence that the person intended to commit a criminal act. I'd recommend you retain a lawyer. What you say and do can and will be used against you if charges are ultimately issued and obtaining representation now may have a significant impact on the possible outcomes. Respectfully,
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/1/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    They can try to bring charges but it is not up to them. It is up to the prosecutor to decide if there is enough evidence. I would not be making any statements without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    You could be "charged" but it may not be enough to "convict" you if there was no "intent to deprive" the business of funds knowingly.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Can your employer press charges? Yes. Should they press charges under these facts? In my opinion, No. The more relevant question you should ask and know the answer to are these: (1) what do you do now, and (2) what do you do if the employer presses charges and the DA accepts? On the first, get the relief's to write statements for you as to what they found and what they know. Ask them to have the statements notarized and dated. Keep this safe. Next sit down and make a journal of notes for yourself and do not share any of this information without first thinking twice about it. Most importantly, do not admit to any problems or shortages with the employer and remember that his/her representative only wants to fire you for cause. READ THAT AGAIN - the employer's representative has one goal and one goal only, they really do not care if you are charged or not, the intent is to fire you for cause so you get no unemployment (it saves them money) and anything you say can be used as justification to that purpose. It will also make its way into the court file, so it will burn you twice. You cannot simply agree to something and hope it goes away, it will not. If you agree and admit to something in writing they will use that to fire you and then use it to press charges to make an example for other employees. See how this works, you are in the crosshairs, and you have no choice but to stick with innocence as you described it below. If charges are pressed, get the addresses and phone numbers of the witnesses to your lawyer ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Your not guilty of a theft unless you knowingly took property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    If you had solle control over the funds, you are definitely facing an uphill battle. If you worked with co-workers who could have accessed the funds, then you have a better chance. I would guess, due to the small amount of cash missing, that no formal charges will be brought, but be prepared to get a short paycheck!
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    You might be charged with TOP if your employer makes a report and signs a warrant. It might be difficult for the State to prove you guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Durflinger Oliver & Associates
    Durflinger Oliver & Associates | James Edmund Oliver
    The short answer is yes you can be charged. That does not mean they will be able to convict you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Yes you can be charged, the question is can the charge be proven.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Ultimately, it will be up to the prosecuting attorney to determine if there is probable cause that you committed a crime. Only the prosecutor can authorize criminal charges.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    In general, all crimes have some element of "scienter" to them. This is essentially the intent behind the crime. Where something is done innocently, in most cases there is no crime. In your case, there is an obvious difference of opinion. The employer claims you intentionally took the funds. You claim no knowledge. This type of difference is precisely what trials are made from. It will be for the judge.jury to decide after listening to all of the facts. In the process, your attorney may be able to secure a dismissal of the charges or get an agreed disposition which will resolve the case short of going to trial.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Epstein & Conroy
    Epstein & Conroy | David B. Epstein
    If you had no knowledge of shortages you can not be guilty of theft an offense which requires knowledge and intent. However, merely because you are not guilty does not mean that you cannot be charged. To be charged all the police need is probable cause which is a pretty subjective standard determined by non-lawyers (i.e. the police), and ultimately processed, or not, by the District Attorneys office.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Your employer can file a police report however individuals nor companies can file criminal charges. Criminal charges can only be filed by a prosecuting agency. Your case will have to first go to the police the police will have to forward it to the DA and the DA will decide to file charges. In this case that seems doubtful.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    You should be fine. Like most criminal offense, you must have criminal intent before you can be convicted of a crime. If the state can not prove criminal intent, you will be acquitted.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    It's a matter of he said she said.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/3/2013
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Yes, but proving the allegation could be tough.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/31/2013
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Be very careful not to say anything that can be used against you. You could bE charged, but I don't think it will stick.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    Your employer would be able to report this to the district attorney. However, it is up to the district attorney whether or not they want to go forward with the charges. In this case, it does not sound like the DA would want to charge you and if they do, you will only be facing a misdemeanor. Further, the charge may reducible to an infraction.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/30/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Yes, under the fact you relate you could be charged, but it would be doubtful that they could prove it. I would however start looking for a new job while employed, it may be harder to find if you get fired.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Theft is a specific intent crime. If you did not have any awareness of any missing funds, then that would be a good defense to any theft charge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/3/2013
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Anybody can be charged with any crime. It's one thing to charge or accuse someone, it's another matter entirely to prove those allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no way to determine the strength or weakness of your case based on the limited facts we have. Consult with an experienced criminal attorney and have him review the record and police reports in order to advise you of the likelihood as to what will happen and what steps you should take.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    You can be charged if the prosecuting agency does not believe you; however, it should be tough for them to obtain a conviction. You can steal something on accident. There must be intent. Now if it appears on the facts that you "intended" to commit the theft, it will be up to you and your attorney to show otherwise.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Depending on how old your son is the prosecution will review the incident report and decide if he will be charged in adult court or in juvenile court. The prosecution can take up to a year to make decision to charge your son. Your son does not have to be taken to the police station, read his Miranda rights, photographed, or fingerprinted by the police for him to be charged with a crime.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    It's easy to get charged, but sounds like a very dependable case.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/3/2013
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law | Mark A. Broughton
    Well, it is always possible but it may not be very probable. Your employer cannot charge you with a criminal offense: only the district attorney in your area can do that. The employer can report a possible theft to the police, who may investigate. From here it can get a little complicated in terms of what the police can or may do, but ultimately they will send the results of their investigation to the DA who will then decide to file charges or not, and if so, what charges to file. In these circumstances, the DA may or may not decide to file charges. This is true regardless of whether or not the employer wants to prosecute, or the opposite, if the employer does not want to "press charges." I will say this: knowledge is an element of any offense; so is a thing called "mens rea," which basically means that the accused has to have a criminal intent. Under the circumstances you describe, if you made a mistake (or two), that does not usually rise to the level of a criminal offense. On the flip side, the employer is entitled to take whatever action he feels appropriate - under the law - regarding your employment. That is up to him and not the DA. You best be more prudent - count the money after each shift and make sure it's accurate. Have a co-worker verify this for you and you shouldn't have any more problems.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    In any theft case, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you deliberately took money (or other property) with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property. If the money was in the cash drawer, then how in the world do they expect to prove that you took anything? This may be all a bluff by your employer, but if it goes beyond that, keep your mouth shut about this - no statements to anyone... not your employer, not the HR department and especially not the police. Instead, find a local criminal defense attorney to sit down and discuss all the details in confidence so you can see where you're going with your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Law Office of James E. Smith
    Law Office of James E. Smith | James Smith
    Doubtful if you would be prosecuted over $43. The DA would have to show a specific intent to embezzle money which, according to you, can not be shown.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    Knowing that a shortage exists is an element of proof. If your employer, and any investigating officer, do not believe your assertion, you could be charged. Remember, being charged and being convicted are two different things. The state needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally committed theft.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    The crime of theft requires that the person accused had the intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Matthew Cameron Attorney at Law
    Matthew Cameron Attorney at Law | Matt Cameron
    Based on the summary that you have provided, there *may* be probable cause to charge you with larceny, but this is far from the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard required to actually convict you of this offense. It sounds as if you should be able to present a strong defense if this were to proceed to court. Given the minimal amount of money involved and the strong possibility from the evidence that this was an honest oversight, however, you may have a reasonable chance of having this dismissed prior to trial if it does get that far.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
    It doesn't sound like the kind of case a prosecutor would want to pursue.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    Theft requires general intent, which means knowledge - if you did not know, you are not guilty - but that is a trial issue, so you can be charged but should not be convicted.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Dailey
    Law Office of Michael E. Dailey | Michael E. Dailey
    An individual citizen does not have the power or authority to file a criminal charge on their own You can be charged if a prosecutor has the investigation presented to him or her and thinks the evidence is strong enough and would justify a case be filed. The claim of you not knowing of the shortage may be raised as a defense at trial or in preliminary proceedings but may not prevent the charge from being filed originally.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Thomas C. Brandstrader Attorney At Law | Thomas C. Brandstrader
    It would be a misdemeanor. Even if funds are returned a crime was still committed.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    DeVito & Visconti, PA
    DeVito & Visconti, PA | John E DeVito
    If the court has cause to believe that a crime was committed then a criminal complaint can be brought against the accused. A criminal complaint can be brought by the police or it can be brought by an individual. In this scenario that you outlined, an employer who believes that an employee has stolen from him, has the right to go before a clerk magistrate in Massachusetts and request that an application for a criminal complaint issue. If your employer does file an application for a criminal complaint, you have a right to be heard at that complaint hearing. If money was missing from your drawer that may be cause to issue a criminal complaint; however, if you had no knowledge of the missing money and that can be established, you will not be convicted of the crime. You may be charged but you are not likely to be convicted. Consult with an attorney and hire an attorney before any clerks hearing or before any hearing before the court. This is the type of matter that should be resolved before a clerk magistrate. It should never make it to the trial court.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Law Offices of Stephanie Lee Ehrbright, Esq.
    Law Offices of Stephanie Lee Ehrbright, Esq. | Stephanie Lee Ehrbright
    It is possible to charge you, then you would put on your defense which would be exactly what you just described.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Law Office of Charles J. Block
    Law Office of Charles J. Block | Charles J. Block
    It appears a theft charge would not be able to be proven from these facts but that does not mean your employer is prohibited from signing a complaint against you.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/31/2013
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    Larceny in New York requires an intent to steal. The situation you describe doesn't indicate that level of intent but your employer might see it differently. Since you are talking about a small amount over 4 instances, I think it would be difficult to prove that you were intending to steal and not making mistakes at the register. I doubt that this would be enough for an arrest, although I wouldn't be surprised if the employer fired you based on his suspicions.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    You can be charged but would be able to produce a strong defense given those circumstances and witnesses that no theft occurred or that you did not have intent.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    The prosecutor must prove you intentionally took the money. If you never meant to take it and actually never took it then you have a good defense.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Generally speaking, a corporation cannot charge anyone with a crime. Only the prosecuting attorney in your county has that right. It sounds like they are trying to bully you into paying for something you didn't do. That is as long as you didn't hide the money in the drawer with the intent to take it later. If this is a simple mistake, I would maintain my silence and Hope it blows over. Whatever you do, do not discuss these facts with anyone other than your lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/29/2011
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