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What should you do if you are accused of stealing money from your employer?

New York is cracking down on white-collar crimes, the so-called “victimless crimes” that do not involve violence but often involve greed. In this enthusiastic environment many charges are being filed, not all valid.

If your employer accuses you of stealing, your first instinct may be shock or anger. It is important at that moment to keep your wits about you and do your best to gather the information that will help your defense. Here are five steps you should take if your employer accuses you of theft.

1. Verify exactly what they are accusing you of

Ask to speak with someone who can explain exactly what charges they think you are guilty of along with a human resources representative. Take notes and be sure to ask for any documentation that they can provide.

2. Refute the charges

Maintain your composure, refute any allegations of wrongdoing and assert your innocence.

3. Prepare your defense

Carefully prepare an argument against each charge levied against you. This may entail looking at emails, time cards, receipts, daily planners and logs. Try to identify colleagues that can corroborate your story.

4. Present your evidence

Meet again with your accuser and human resources. Present the evidence you’ve gathered that supports your innocence. Hopefully, this will be enough to resolve that matter. If not determine whether your company has internal mediation or other dispute resolution opportunities.

5. Retain legal counsel

You should not face serious allegations alone. Consult with an experienced white-collar crimes attorney who can provide the counsel you need throughout the process.

Being accused of a white-collar crime is very serious. Make sure you respond promptly and properly with the right help to avoid prosecution.