People are often driven to crime after tough circumstances put them behind on rent, child support, car payments, and other financial obligations. Many store and restaurant workers see their job as a perfect target for theft. These workers think that if a little money goes missing, no one will notice. Many times, these plans backfire and land them with serious criminal charges.
The perfect example of this is when, in early May, 2017, a 44-year-old Five Guys employee in Rockaway Township, NJ decided to gamble away the burger joint’s cash deposits. He was entrusted with the eatery’s daily cash deposits, and was supposed to take them to the bank. When the money failed to appear in the bank account, the worker contacted the store manager to inform him that he had taken the store’s funds and gambled them away.
If you or a loved one has been charged with stealing from your employer, our attorneys may be able to help you fight the charges or negotiate a plea to a lesser offense. The New Jersey criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych protect the rights of the accused and help them get favorable outcomes on their criminal cases.
Stealing from your employer may qualify as multiple specific crimes in New Jersey. Generally, though, stealing from one’s employer is called “occupational theft,” since you use your occupation to steal. This can include things like skimming cash out of the register, stealing office supplies, or pocketing cash instead of depositing it – like in the Five Guys case. While many people may do things like take pens from work, others perform more serious acts of theft.
Many employees think that taking money from their employer might go unnoticed. There are plenty of schemes that employees in stores, restaurants, and corporate workplaces have attempted to perform their crimes unnoticed. From exploiting quirks in a point of sale machine to tampering with customer and corporate accounts, many of these crimes have still lead to these employees being caught, fired, and criminally charged.
What Crime is Theft from Work?
In classic, common-law crimes, stealing money or items you were entrusted with at work is called “embezzlement.” Even something as simple as stealing from the cash register at a fast-food job could still be considered “embezzlement,” not just white-collar crime. Some states do have “embezzlement” laws that specifically criminalize this behavior.
Other states, like New Jersey, categorize this under general theft crimes. In New Jersey’s criminal code, there are a few different types of theft, based on how the crime is performed:
- Theft by unlawful taking or disposition
- Theft by deception
- Theft by extortion
- Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake
- Theft of services
- Theft by failure to make required disposition of property received
Many crimes of theft from your job are simple theft crimes under the “theft by unlawful taking or disposition” heading found in N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-3. This general covers taking anything that does not belong to you, by any means. If you acquired the items or money from your job by lying or otherwise creating a false impression, it could also count as “theft by deception,” under § 2C:20-4.
“Theft by failure to make required disposition of property received” under § 2C:20-9 is probably the closest thing to classic embezzlement. This covers the crime of theft where the actor comes into possession of property along with “a known legal obligation to make specified payment or other disposition.” This could cover handling money at a cash register or taking money to the bank like in the recent Five Guys case. The statute goes on to specifically include situations where financial officers in the private and public sector mishandle funds they are entrusted with, which more clearly covers the typical situation people expect for “embezzlement.”
Theft crimes have basically the same punishments no matter which type of theft is charged. There are added fines for some things, but the general level of crime is defined according to the value of the stolen property, or other features of the property. In general, the levels of crime break down according to the following values:
- Theft of $75,000 or more is a second degree crime punishable by five to 10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000.
- Theft of between $500 and $75,000 is a third degree crime punishable by three to five years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
- Theft of between $200 and $500 (including exactly $200 or $500) is a fourth degree crime punishable by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Theft of less than $200 is a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
New Jersey Theft Defense Attorney
The South Jersey theft attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych fight for criminal defendants in South Jersey and throughout the State. If you or a loved one has been charged with theft in New Jersey, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. For a free consultation, call (609) 616-4956 today.