Frequently Asked Questions
What is Fraud at Work?
In certain instances where an employee is caught stealing, they may face charges of fraud. This typically occurs when the employee has taken deliberate steps to conceal their actions, resorting to deceit, falsehood, or other fraudulent methods. The extent of the fraud determines whether the employee is charged with fraud over $5,000 or fraud under $5,000.
Fraud is considered a hybrid offense, allowing the Crown the discretion to choose between summary conviction or indictment based on the gravity of the allegations. For severe cases, the Crown often opts for indictment, while summary conviction is pursued in other situations. This decision influences the maximum penalty that can be imposed upon conviction. The penalties for fraud convictions vary, ranging from imprisonment for two years less a day to as much as fourteen years in the most serious cases.
What is Time Theft at Work?
Time theft refers to a situation where an employee receives payment for hours they did not actually work. This deceptive practice can take various forms, such as manually altering work records to show unearned extra hours, taking unauthorized extended breaks, or handling personal tasks during work hours. While it predominantly concerns hourly employees, it can also apply to salaried individuals.
In Canada, time theft is considered a criminal offense and often leads to immediate termination of the employee. Offenders can be arrested and charged under section 322 of the Criminal Code. If the value of the stolen hours exceeds $5,000, the charge may be elevated to theft over $5,000; otherwise, it falls under theft under $5,000. Additionally, employees altering documents to falsely claim payment for unworked hours may face charges of falsifying employment records.
Upon conviction, individuals found guilty of theft or falsifying employment records could face incarceration, probation, or be required to make restitution payments for the stolen hours. If restitution is not mandated or if the employee remains uncharged, the employer has the option to pursue a civil lawsuit to recover the lost wages.
What is Possession of Proceeds Obtained by Crime at Work?
In certain situations, an employee caught stealing may face an additional charge of possession of proceeds obtained by crime, especially if law enforcement can recover the stolen items or proceeds from the theft in the employee’s possession.
Possession of property obtained by crime is considered a hybrid offense in legal terms. This means that the prosecution, represented by the Crown, can choose to proceed either summarily or by indictment based on the severity of the allegations. In serious cases, the Crown often opts for indictment, while summary proceedings are followed in less severe situations. This decision not only affects the legal process but also determines the maximum penalty upon conviction. For individuals convicted of possession of proceeds obtained by crime, the penalties can range from imprisonment for two years less a day to up to ten years’ imprisonment, particularly in the most severe cases.
Is the Court Process Different when Theft occurs in the Employee/Employer context?
When an employee steals from their employer and law enforcement becomes involved, the legal process can take a specific course influenced by the employer-employee relationship.
Police Involvement: Upon being alerted to a potential crime, the police exercise discretion in deciding whether to press charges and what charges to file depending on the legal grounds and the evidence. After assessing the situation and confirming a crime, they select appropriate charges and forward the case to the Crown’s office for evaluation.
Crown Screening: The Crown’s office reviews the case, considering factors like the value of stolen items. They decide whether to proceed summarily (for less severe cases) or by indictment (for significant offenses). The Crown’s decision significantly impacts potential penalties upon conviction. It will usually impact the extent of jail time being sought.
Impact of Employer-Employee Relationship: The nature of theft within an employer-employee relationship influences case resolution. For minor offenses, the Crown might approve diversion programs, enabling offenders to complete probation and conditions, leading to charge withdrawal and avoiding a criminal record. However, employees stealing from their employer may be ineligible for diversion due to the breach of trust involved.
Court Sentencing: In cases of conviction, the court views the employer-employee relationship as an aggravating factor, potentially leading to harsher sentences. This breach of trust is considered seriously by the court, often resulting in more severe penalties for the convicted employee.
Crown prosecutors have considerable discretion in such cases, allowing them to consider the unique dynamics of the employer-employee relationship when making decisions.
What if I Stole from my Employer and I am a Regulated Professional?
Regulated professionals such as doctors, lawyers, nurses, and accountants are held to exceptionally high ethical standards due to their influential roles and the trust they share with the public. When such professionals are caught stealing from their employer, the situation becomes complex due to the involvement of their governing regulatory body.
Typically, when a regulated professional is discovered stealing from their employer, they face termination, criminal charges, and a report to the relevant regulatory body. The regulatory body then initiates an investigation into the incident. If the body finds that the individual’s actions amount to misconduct, they can impose severe penalties. These may include suspension, imposing limitations or conditions on their practice, or revoking their professional license entirely. This disciplinary action not only affects the professional’s career but also upholds the integrity of the profession and safeguards the public’s trust.
Will a Conviction for Stealing from my Employer Affect other Aspects of my Life?
Being convicted of theft or fraud in an employment context can have far-reaching consequences beyond criminal and professional penalties. Individuals facing such convictions often encounter challenges in several aspects of their lives, including:
1. Employment: Upon being caught, individuals are typically terminated from their current employment. Moreover, having a criminal record can severely limit future employment opportunities. Many employers conduct criminal background checks before hiring, and individuals with a record of theft or fraud may find it difficult to secure gainful employment. Such convictions could also restrict their ability to work or volunteer with vulnerable populations.
2. Travel: Traveling internationally can become problematic for those with a criminal history. Several countries, especially the United States, may deny entry to individuals with even minor criminal records. This restriction can greatly limit the ability to travel, affecting personal and professional opportunities abroad.
3. Immigration: Convictions, even minor ones, can impact immigration status. Citizenship, Immigration, and Refugee Canada might delay or deny citizenship applications for individuals with a criminal offense on their record. This could lead to significant delays and complications in the immigration process.
In summary, a conviction for theft or fraud not only results in immediate employment termination and potential professional consequences but can also create barriers to future employment, travel restrictions, and complications in immigration proceedings. These consequences underscore the importance of understanding the long-term implications of criminal actions in an employment context.