Can I face criminal charges for cashing my payroll check if I was overpaid?

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Can I face criminal charges for cashing my payroll check if I was overpaid?

I was overpaid by my company.
Should I cash the check?

Asked on January 20, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If they gave you the check without you doing something to cause it to be issued incorrectly or excessively (e.g. you did not lie on a time sheet), then you can cash it without fear of criminal charges--you would have not criminal intent, which is a necessary component of criminal liability. You company *could* require you to return the surplus--the law is clear than another party's error does not let you keep money to which you are not otherwise entitled. A wise idea would be, if you cash the check, put the surplus aside (e.g. leave it your bank account and don't use it; or if you don't use a bank account, stash the money in a separate drawer at home) and keep it separate for at least a year, to see if they ask for it back. If they do, return it; if they never want it back, it will end up being yours.


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