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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26753
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Zoey, I've been stealing from work and I'm pretty sure I'm

Customer Question

Hi Zoey, I've been stealing from work and I'm pretty sure I'm about to face the consequences
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

Hi and thanks for requesting me.

What's the approximate value that you've stolen? What makes you think that you're going to face consequences? In what US state are you? Do you have any prior convictions?

What's the question you want to ask?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
500 dollars. I am in CA. The company just audited the inventory and they came up short. They will be investigating the loss. I have no prior convictions
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the reply.

When the cash or value of property taken in California is less than $500, this would be a petty theft. It would have a maximum possible penalty of 6 months of jail time and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, you'd be expected to pay back the complainant.

As this is your first arrest, unless you chose to take this case all the way to trial and you lose it, you won't have to worry about jail. Your worst case scenario if you want to resolve this with some kind of a deal would be probation with restitution.

If your company is starting to investigate and they are interrogating employees, you may want to have a lawyer with you if Human Resources gets involved and wants to question you. It might be good for the soul to confess, but confessions can be used against you in court. I'm not saying you should lie. To the contrary. It's best to tell the truth. But you have a right to remain silent and not give evidence against yourself. Having a lawyer will protect that right.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

You want to report her to the FBI at and to your police, not because they can catch her. If she's in Ghana they won't be able to. But when you are the victim of a crime your unreimbursed losses are tax deductible. So you want to make sure you report the fraud to the authorities and that way you can get something back in the form of a deduction when you file your 2015 taxes.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

If you have other photos, you can send them to me if you like.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What should I do if I'm asked to sign an admission of guilt? What happens if the company cannot determine the exact amount I stole? Can they hold me accountable for all their losses not including what I am responsible for?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

You have a Constitutional right against self-incrimination. You cannot be made to sign an admission of guilt. But that's why you want to have a local lawyer with you if you're going to be formally questioned. And yes, if you admit to stealing and there are other losses, they could reasonably believe that you took more money as well and try to hold you legally accountable for all of it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If the company finds me to be guilty, but have no evidence of me actually taking money, would it be in my personal best interest to not admit guilt? What can I do if I am formally questioned and want to have a lawyer present, but cannot afford one?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

The point is that if they have no evidence, any admission of guilt on your part would be a confession and would provide them with evidence to have you arrested and charged. If you are only their prime suspect but they cannot prove it because others had the same access to the money that you did, then they likely would be able to suspend or fire you, but they cannot charge you because they have no proof.

An admission of guilt would give your employers/the police/the DA virtually all that they needed to arrest, charge, and convict you. It's never in your interest to make a confession.

You can afford to consult with a local lawyer, and he can guide you You don't have to retain a lawyer now anyway, since there's nothing for him or her to do. If this does end up in court by then you will have lost your job, so you'd be eligible for a free lawyer if you asked the court for a public defender.