Can I be arrested for theft?

I work for a day labor company and I get paid at the end of everyday when I bring my ticket time sheet back to the office. The manager of the company that you get sent to work for the day fills out the ticket, writes in how many hours you worked for the day, signs and dates it. I bring the ticket back to the office and my company pays me out. Well, I was working for the same place everyday for a couple of months. I got into an argument with a manager and quit going. I have been filling out my own tickets, writing in 8 to 10 hours a day, forging a signature and taking the tickets back to the office everyday and get paid for hours I have not worked. I have been doing this for about 4 months now and that company continues to pay the day labor company I work for every week. I just stopped doing this a couple days ago, but I think there is a small chance that company might find out. If they do what course of action can they take against me? They have already paid for the hours I worked. Since they already paid and didn’t take the time to look over the bill my company sent them they send them a bill for the hours I work every week and this has been happening for months is there anything they can do to me? Can I still legally get into trouble for theft even if they paid the bill and continued to do so every week for months?

Asked on November 19, 2018 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) They can press theft charges against you. You stole from them by trickery: that is still theft, the same as if you kicked in a door, picked the lock on a safe, and took an amount of cash equal to the paychecks you stole, or stole their ID info and used it to transfer money from their bank account to your own. That they could have caught this earlier is NOT a defense: the law does not say that theft is ok if the victim doesn't catch it promptly. You could got to jail for over a year for this.
2) They can sue you to get all the money back, either in addition to pressing charges or (at their option) instead of. If they sue you, they will win--you have no legal defense. If you don't pay after they win, they could garnish your wages, put a lien on any real property you own, and look to take money out of your bank account or seize valuable personal property (like expensive electronics, vehicles, jewlery, etc.) you own. 
Say that you stole 8 hours of work a day at $12 per hour (for the sake of illustration) for 4 months, or around 80 work days. That is 8 x 12 x 80 = $7,680 in this example. It would treated exactly the same as stealing $7,680 by any other means.


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