Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.
“There is someone who I know that has worked for a small company for several years. The person has since left that company, the owner has filed charges against the previous employee for theft of cash. The person deposited the cash into their personal checking account. The owner is saying that they are missing a much, much larger amount of cash than what the emplyee has record of. Can the the employee be prosecuted for the entire amount missing (in excess of $250,000) when their bank statements show a smaller amount ($50,000). the owner has had a reputation of taking money at their leisure. It would seem that the employee can only be charged and convicted of what was deposited. Is this correct?”
Criminal charges are handled by the district attorney’s office, and they will review the facts of the case to determine which charges are appropriate. The prosecutor may, given the limited knowledge they have before discovery, charge your friend for the full amount of money lost, but your friend will be able to produce evidence that they did not take the full amount of money alleged. So your friend should not be charged with embezzling or stealing the full amount of missing funds if he or she can produce evidence to the contrary. A qualified criminal attorney in your state will be able to better answer you and your friends questions.