Our Grand Rapids criminal defense attorney at Maesen Law, PLC, Ryan Maesen, knows there is a lot of confusion between employee theft and embezzlement charges in Michigan, and for good reason. Employee theft is one of the most common types of embezzlement and can occur in any type of job, from minimum wage restaurant workers to corporate officers defrauding the company.
Employee theft can technically be considered embezzlement because the worker is in a position of trust. This includes a cashier handling customer cash, a retail worker processing clothing for the sales floor, or management processing accounts and payroll.
However, when someone talks about embezzlement, it is generally because it involves a lot more money. An employee taking $20 from a small business may be employee theft. An employee taking $200,000 from the business may be embezzlement. The reality is, these crimes may be prosecuted under similar state theft laws.
If you have been charged with theft or embezzlement in Michigan, contact our skilled criminal defense attorney in Kent County today to understand the depth of your charges, so we can get to work on an assertive legal solution for your unique charges.
Common Examples of Employee Theft in Michigan
The basic definition of theft is taking someone else’s money or property without the intent of returning it.
Cash skimming is one of the most common forms of employee theft for both retail and restaurant businesses. This may include not recording a purchase and pocketing the money before it enters the register.
There are several ways that employee skimming can occur, including:
- Avoiding ringing in a transaction.
- Ringing in a “no sale” transaction to open the till.
- Improperly applying voids and/or discounts to account for the missing cash.
In some cases, the employee may simply be fired for their unlawful behavior. In others, the employer can seek criminal theft or embezzlement charges against the employee. If you have been charged with either, contact our experienced Grand Rapid embezzlement attorney right away to learn more about the legal consequences of your charges. Even a petty theft conviction will appear on your permanent criminal record leading to long-term consequences that can change the trajectory of your future.
Common Examples of Employee Embezzlement and Their Penalties in Michigan
In simple terms, employee embezzlement is another form of employee theft. Michigan Law defines embezzlement as when an agent or employee of an individual, business, or government uses his or her position of trust to fraudulently take property, valuables, or proprietary information.
While embezzlement may involve elaborate bookkeeping schemes or electronic transfers, it can be as simple as skimming bills from a cash-based business or charity. Depending on the scale of the crime — including how much money was taken, and the financial impact the theft had on the business or organization — embezzlement can be a serious felony charge.
The penalties for embezzlement in Michigan are based on the amount taken, and include:
- Less than $200: a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail.
- $200 or more but less than $1,000: a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
- $1,000 or more but less than $20,000: a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
- $20,000 or more but less than $50,000: a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.
- $50,000 or more but less than $100,000: a felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
- $100,000 or more: a felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison.
If you are convicted of embezzlement in Michigan, you could not only face jail time and fines but also an obligation to pay restitution to the employer. Other long-term consequences include irreparable damage to your reputation, and the inability to obtain employment in the future, as the conviction becomes part of a permanent criminal record.
All Michigan employees need to know, just because you are charged with theft or embezzlement does not mean a conviction is a foregone conclusion.
Contact our skilled Grand Rapids criminal defense lawyer today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome for your case. We are available by phone 24 hours a day by calling 616-821-7691 or allowing us to review your case via email to ensure each aspect is reviewed with the discretion and attention to detail you deserve.
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