I “stole” money from my place of employment of over 16 years. Never ever did that before. No charges pressed yet… Now what?

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I “stole” money from my place of employment of over 16 years. Never ever did that before. No charges pressed yet… Now what?

I have a compulsive gambling problem and no prior record whatsoever. I took some money from work intending to replace it, but it didn’t work out that way. I turned myself into police, and was let go, not having been charged. It’s been over a week, and still no charges pressed. Employers are looking at their records to be sure I never stole before. They haven’t sent me my paycheck. So question is two-fold: can they withhold check and eat away at sick/vacation days (State of WA) in order to repay my debt; and what can I expect next? They’re likely to press charges… but not sure at this point.

Asked on May 7, 2009 under Criminal Law, Washington

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I would tred lightly here if they haven't pressed charges yet.  You should find out if your employer would be willing to accept restitution and under what terms.  This may or may not be an option for you depending on your finances.  Maybe a friened or family member could help.  Anyway such an offer will go a long way to show your good faith.  Remember, if you have worked there for 16 years they must have liked you.  And now would be a great time to speak with an attorney.  Possibly he would be better suited in any dealings with your employer.  Also, if charges are brought and you are arrested (which seems likely) he/she can help you sort this out early on with the authorities.  As the saying goes, "hope for the best; prepare for the worst".

J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I am a lawyer in CT, not WA, but i practice criminal and civil litigation.  Fist off, it is most likely a violation of the WA state statute to withhold your paycheck.  In CT, an employer can get in a lot of trouble and be required to pay double damages to you.  Did your employer fire you?  Are you still going to work everyday?  Have you called the police to find out if a warrant is pending?  Untill the state actually pressed charges, there is really nothing you can do.  If you have been fired, but not yet arrested, I would try to secure a new job asap before anything materializes in court that you may have to put on a job application.  If you are still working, they I suggest you talk with the human resources dept or your manager about receiving your paycheck as they should not be withholding it.  If the state arrests you, they you need to obtain a lawyer to avoid having a criminal record.


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