Employees charged with embezzlement may face serious penalties if convicted. Depending on the value of money or property an individual has purportedly taken from an employer, punishment may include a fine, jail time or supervised release.

A 40-year-old Nebraska resident pleaded “no contest” after law enforcement officials alleged that she had taken more than $30,000 from her employer. As reported by NTV News, a plea bargain resulted in a sentence of 18 months of probation.

The defendant initially received a 90-day jail sentence, which the judge suspended after she served one day. A judge may, however, reinstate a suspended sentence if a defendant violates any of the terms of his or her probation.

Conducting several investigations to determine embezzlement

When an employer suspects that an employee misappropriated funds, goods or property placed in his or her trust, an internal investigation may determine what actually occurred. After a manager or supervisor looks into how an employee may have taken the company’s property, an outside party could then conduct a second investigation. The general purpose of an external investigation is to verify the facts first brought to light through an employer’s suspicions.

An external investigation by a forensic accountant can help determine the actual missing amount. Based on the results of an external investigation, an employer may then decide to either discipline or fire the employee suspected of theft.

A company may also contact law enforcement with its findings and file an official embezzlement report. A criminal investigation can determine whether a prosecutor has grounds to bring charges against an employee.

Defending against the allegations

When a prosecutor charges an employee with embezzlement, the defendant has the right to counteract the allegations with a legal defense. Among other purported facts, a prosecutor must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant had an intent to take the employer’s funds or property and actually took possession. Based on the circumstances, entering a plea bargain may reduce the punishment if a prosecutor can prove that the allegations are correct.