Most people accused of theft at work do not have previous convictions, and have more than just their liberty to lose if convicted. They often stand to lose their reputation. With this in mind, we have a special section dealing with employee theft cases. We believe that we are the UK's specialist firm in this niche area, and have acted for senior employees of some of the world's largest corporations and financial institutions, often accused of thefts in the millions of pounds, as well as taking pride in delivering an excellent and sensitive service to clients who are simply accused of stealing from a small or medium sized business.
For further information on offences against employers, please see the case study below, and then our guide to the offence and strategy in dealing with these cases.
Theft from employer
Our client was a flight attendant with a major UK based International Airline. When her employer decided to remove her from employment on the grounds of suspected employee dishonesty, they also conducted a flawed internal investigation into her, and later informed the Police, having already sacked her.
The police subsequently charged her with the theft of numerous items from her workplace, namely duty free products. This case was immediately published in the national press, and our client faced not only a possible prison sentence if convicted, but also the loss of her career and any future career prospects, as a perpetrator of ‘employee fraud'.
We took a view at an early stage that the key to success in this case would be understanding and assessing the complex money and goods systems involved in duty-free in-flight goods shopping, and relating that to the training and checking of staff in the airline's systems and protocols.
After an intensive four months of preparation of the case, we were able to show at trial that the management systems of the airline were badly organised, monitoring systems were flawed, and that the internal investigation into our client had been biased against her from the outset.
After the jury had reached their verdict, the judge made a point of indicating to the prosecution that the case should never have reached court. Verdict : Not Guilty of the alleged heft at work. Client's liberty and reputation intact.
Charges of Employee Dishonesty
In employee dishonesty cases, charges of obtaining money or goods illegally as an employee are often brought under the Fraud Act 2006. Part of the reason for the introduction of this law was to close gaps in the law caused by new types of theft involving technology which did not exist when the previous fraud offences were introduced. Theft offences are often prosecuted under the Theft Act 1968.
Theft at work or in the context of employment- what must be proven?
To show theft, and to make out most employee fraud offences, the prosecution must show that the defendant has been dishonest. In cases where the defendant thought that he or she had a right to the property he or she was taking, a prosecution will usually fail.
Company procedures and records in theft from employer cases
To determine whether theft can be shown, the whole systems of the company involved need to be analysed. Any training manuals need to be requested from the employer, and any information relating to that company's procedures and common practices must be given to the defence by the prosecution. Where this does not happen, an application should be made to the court for the judge to order the prosecution and police to comply.
Records of all transactions have to be requested, both ones which the prosecution say are illegal, and also ones which are apparently innocent. Where necessary, the trail of all money and/or goods has to be tracked. This may need the assistance of a forensic accountant. This is an accountant who has expertise in dealing specifically in criminal cases, and ideally also in employee dishonesty cases.
Sentencing for employee fraud cases
In employee fraud cases/theft from employer cases, a custodial sentence is always a possibility if the defendant is convicted. The fact that the defendant is in a position of trust means that the offence is especially frowned upon by courts. If the theft at work has caused the company financial difficulties or has had a negative effect on other employees, then this increases the possibility and potential length of a prison sentence. Much can be done to try to prevent this, but the best way of dealing with a theft from employer case/employee fraud cases is, where possible, to fight it.
Time spent with the Client
In theft from employer cases and employee fraud cases, the importance of spending time going through all of the prosecution evidence, and also building a defence case cannot be overstated. It is often only by providing a thorough pro-active defence that a prosecution for theft from an employer can be foiled.
If you have been accused of theft from employer or employee dishonesty, we recommend getting in contact with both an Employment Lawyer and a specialist embezzlement solicitors. We are available to discuss this with no-obligation and in confidence.