An employee who breaches the employer’s trust by stealing money or goods is committing embezzlement. The Texas Penal Code classifies embezzlement as a theft crime under chapter 31. Allegations of employee theft include the following types of conduct:
- Document falsification
- Transferring funds from an employer’s account to the offender’s account
- Theft of cash, goods or services from an employer
Besides the penalties courts can impose at sentencing, an criminal record with a charge of embezzlement on it can ruin a person’s reputation and eligibility for employment. Defending against embezzlement charges is essential because so much is at stake.
Houston Allegations of Employee Theft
Employee theft comes in many forms. It can be as simple as a cashier removing money from a cash register, but it can also involve the falsification of corporate documents and financial records and the creation of phony business entities to siphon millions of dollars from a company. Regardless of the manner in which it is accomplished, charges of employee theft involve the unauthorized appropriation of money, services or goods with the intent of depriving the rightful owner of the property.
Penalties Upon Conviction of Employee Theft in Texas
The penalties courts can impose on a person convicted of embezzlement can be harsh and severe depending upon the value of the property or services taken. For example, theft of $50 or less is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500, but the penalty increases to a fine up to $10,000 and a prison sentence up to 99 years if the amount stolen is $200,000 or more.
Defenses to Accusations of Employee Theft in Houston
Because intent to deprive the owner of possession of the cash or property is an essential element of embezzlement, defenses include:
- Lack of intent
- Consent of the owner
A cashier who makes an honest mistake when counting the money at the end of a shift could plead mistake as a defense to charges of employee theft. Likewise, an employee who takes property from an employer to temporarily safeguard it or with the consent of the employer would lack the intent necessary for prosecutors to prove the commission of a crime.