One of the most common reasons that a person can end up going straight from the office conference room to the criminal courthouse is when a company suspects that person has engaged in embezzlement. The crime of embezzlement is essentially taking property that does not belong to you but which you have been granted custody over for your own use. Thus, company insiders such as CEOs, CFOs, managers, account representatives, and even secretaries can often find themselves at the wrong end of pointed questions from inside the company regarding use of company funds and property.
What is embezzlement and what is the proper discretionary use of company funds for items such as travel expenses may be a fuzzy line in some cases, but that does not mean that an internal investigation into embezzlement won’t turn into a criminal prosecution. Thus, it may be in your best interest to consult with your own attorney if you are under investigation for embezzlement at work.
The Company’s Lawyers Are Not Your Lawyers
The first sign you may be facing serious legal troubles for embezzlement is most likely not going to be the local police visiting you at home or the FBI raiding your office. No, the first sign is likely going to be an HR representative speaking to you or perhaps a company lawyer. These may be people you know and like, or, at the very least, you consider on the same team as yourself.
Such individuals will also likely be somewhat friendly in speaking to you as they will be trying to get you to voluntarily hand over information which points to illegal actions without the need for law enforcement. But, remember, HR and company lawyers represent the company, not you, and so they can and must honor the company’s interests over yours in addressing any potential wrongdoing, whether substantiated or not.
The Company May Decide to Give Info You Provide to the Government
Following from the point above, if internal investigators (which can, again, can come in the form of a smiling, ultra-friendly HR representative) do find evidence of what they believe to be criminal embezzlement, their next step may be to inform local or federal law enforcement, or regulatory bodies such as the SEC, if applicable.
Thus, while you may feel like you are having a confidential conversation with company representatives, they will often have the right to give any and all information you provide to them to law enforcement and prosecutors who can bring criminal or civil charges against you.
Your Communications With Your Own Attorney Will Be Confidential
Putting that all together, yes, it may certainly be in your best interest to consult with your own personal attorney should you find yourself in the middle of an embezzlement investigation at work, or any other white collar violation for that matter.
When you speak to a defense attorney who represents your interests and your interests only, you will gain insights on what to do (and, perhaps more importantly, what not to do) to protect your career, reputation, and possibly even your freedom. All communications with your own attorney will be confidential, meaning you will not be required to share them with company representatives.
Get Experienced Defense in Your Oklahoma Embezzlement Investigation
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian is a former Oklahoma district attorney who relies on his years of experience in prosecuting cases to provide the best possible defense for all defendants. If you are facing criminal charges and/or investigation for embezzlement, contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405-896-9768 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.