If you are accused of stealing from your job, the employer gets to decide whether or not they would like to press criminal charges against you. If convicted, you may receive jail time or fines.
That, however, is just the beginning. Most likely, you will get fired and lose your source of income. Those accused in North Carolina now have something else to worry about: employers have a new option to take you to civil court. If they win this additional case, they can take even more money out of your pocket.
How is this possible?
House Bill 405 Codifies Civil Damages for Employee Theft
House Bill 405 went into affect early 2016, making it illegal for an individual to apply for a job for reasons other than “bona fide intent of seeking or holding employment.” Specifically, the law gives employers the “right to action” against any employee that applies to a job in order to remove intellectual or physical property from the site of employment. Those actions include taking the former applicant or employee to civil court to seek up to $5,000 for every day that the violations occur.
You may have heard of House Bill 405 last year in relation to animal activism. In fact, it has been called an “ag-gag” bill, and animal activists say that its true purpose is to prevent exposition of the workplace doings of slaughterhouses and the food industry.
For example, if an animal activist were to apply for a job at a factory farm in North Carolina to tape the conditions in the workplace and reveal how horrible they are, they could get sued for tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how long they were taking intellectual property or breaching their “loyalty to the employer.”
Many opponents of the law said it was too vaguely worded and would give employers of all industries too much power to take thousands of dollars away from individuals.
The law does not specify that it is for the agricultural industry, however. The employee in question may also be facing criminal penalties, only now the theft of a few hundred dollars could end up resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in different fines in addition to whatever criminal repercussions are set down.
Employee by Theft Definition
Let’s go back to the criminal charges you may face if you are caught taking money from an employer. There are two charges you could face for this type of crime: embezzlement or larceny by employee.
These charges are very similar. They both involve theft of property by someone with a specific title or position, and both are a class H felony in North Carolina. Unless the value of the property stolen is over $100,000 – then it’s a class C felony.
There are only small differences between embezzlement and larceny by employee. The most notable is the position that the defendant held. Embezzlement is committed by “any agent, consignee, clerk, bailee, or servant…of any person.” While this often includes employees in a trusted position, embezzlement also extends out to someone with a specific relationship to the victims of theft.
For example, if a volunteer firefighter, a financial adviser, or someone who holds a public office in North Carolina is caught stealing from the organization they worked with, the crime is considered embezzlement.
In contrast, larceny by employee includes a broader base of people. A sales associate taking money from the cash register commits larceny by employee, as does someone taking home office supplies.
Caught Stealing On the Job?
Both of these charges are felonies, and can result in years behind bars. Moreover, if an employer decides to take civil action against an employee for stealing, the consequences will keep on coming. Fight these charges by contacting a North Carolina defense lawyer immediately.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.