The Revised Code of Washington State considers theft-related actions as larceny or embezzlement. Larceny generally describes most thefts of assets or services. Embezzlement, however, requires taking money or property by breaching a position of trust. As noted on the Washington State Legislature’s website, embezzlement may not require a detailed description of the types of properties taken.
The total value of the assets taken determines whether an offense qualifies as a misdemeanor or felony. If the amount does not exceed $750, an offense is generally classified as a misdemeanor. When the amount exceeds $750, a felony charge may result.
An internal investigation may uncover items taken
When employers believe employees misappropriated company property, an internal investigation may begin. The employer could uncover the value of a loss and the individuals involved. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, organizations with noncash internal theft had a median loss of $98,000 in 2018.
The Society for Human Resource Management describes common items embezzled. Workers reportedly take food, equipment or supplies. Employees also purportedly claim more hours than worked, inflate their invoices and misappropriate trade secrets. Internal investigations could reveal the value and degree of loss a company may have experienced.
Employers may turn over their investigation results to law enforcement
The results of an internal investigation may help employers decide whether to file a civil complaint against their employees. As reported by Chron.com, employers may share evidence with law enforcement for possible prosecution. Filing criminal charges, however, may require proof of embezzlement. For the court to convict an employee, prosecutors must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense occurred.
Employees allegedly taking money or noncash property from their employers may find themselves under investigation. Class B felony charges could result if the value exceeds $5,000. The charges may require a strong defense to avoid or overturn a conviction.