Dealing With False Theft Accusations
The first thing you can do if you’re slapped with false accusations of theft – or some other crime, whether at work or elsewhere – is to stop speaking. Please do not talk to anybody about it, particularly the cops. Remember that anything you say can and will be used against you, as the law enforcement officers must tell you.
Anything you say to officials (cops, prosecutors, etc.) will undoubtedly be used against you. However, if you say something to someone else and that comment is picked up by the police, they might be able to use it as well. Even if you believe you’re just saying things that benefit you–defenses, explanations, alibis, and so on–the officials can use a later inconsistency to “indict,” or destroy, your reputation.
You have the right to remain silent: it is your right under the Fifth Amendment not to implicate yourself (the right against “self-incrimination”), also known as the “right to silence” or “taking the Fifth.” Make use of the privilege. Not posting any information on social media or any public area is a part of not saying anything about the matter at hand.
Second, you should hire a lawyer. While the sentences you might face may vary depending on how much money or goods you are convicted of stealing–the more valuable the property, the longer the possible jail time–if you are charged with fraud, prison and fines are both possibilities.
If you are arrested, you will have a fraud conviction on your record, which will be visible to anyone who conducts a background check (e.g., landlords or employers). There’s a lot on the line. As a result, you can retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Seek your attorney’s advice after you’ve hired him or her; you’ve hired him or her for his or her knowledge.
You also want to make it as easy for your lawyer as possible. Collect, collate, and copy any documents that may be used to exonerate you, such as evidence that you were not the perpetrator of the crime. For instance, if you were at work at the time of the crime, make copies of your timesheets.
- Do you have a bill or a receipt from a restaurant, for example?
- Do you have any toll receipts that indicate where you went if you drove anywhere else?
Create a list of all other facts or testimony that could be used to prosecute you so that your attorney may properly request it. For instance, if you went to some stores with surveillance cameras during the alleged robbery, inform your lawyer.
The video footage may be subpoenaed by the lawyer. If you spoke with someone when the alleged robbery was taking place, your lawyer will consult with other possible witnesses to see if their testimony will support you.
(And, unlike your statements, what your lawyer says about you cannot be used against you; let your lawyer do the talking.)
Depending on the case of the suspected robbery, you can take additional steps. If you’re faced with false accusations of theft from your boss, for example, and the office has video surveillance, your lawyer would almost certainly try to get the video and see what it means.