If my employer paid me more than what I should have been paid, am I liable to pay that money back and can criminal charges be brought upon me for not paying them back?

The payroll dept. paid me for more hours than I worked. The money was direct deposited to my bank account. My employer wants me to pay the extra money back now and is having the police investigate it to file criminal charges.

Asked on October 20, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1 Yes you have to repay the money a mistake does not entitle you keep another's property or money. So just as a person who accidentally picked up your briefcase or suitcase, thinking it belonged to them, would have to return it to you, so do you have to return the money to your employer. If you do not, you may be sued for the money.
2 Taking another's money knowing that it does not belong to you is a crime, but taking someone else's money thinking in good faith that it was yours is not though you still have to return it. So the issue is, what did you know or should you have known? If you receive pay stubs or other evidence of payment and saw that you were paid for more hours than you worked but chose to be quiet and keep the money, that could be a crime, because in that case, you knew or should have known you were not entitled to it.

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