This is one of the more common questions that I get asked when people call me wanting advice about how to deal with a situation like this. Many people think that as long as it’s not the police asking questions, they have nothing to worry about. Nothing can be further from the truth. If your employer is suspecting that you stole something and they want you to come in to the office to discuss the matter, you need to be aware of how dangerous this situation can be. This situation can be more dangerous than talking to the police. Let me explain why.
Everybody watches TV shows involving police criminal investigations. Everyone is aware of terms like “probable cause”, “search warrant”, “arrest warrant”, and “Miranda Rights”. But most people do not truly appreciate exactly what these terms mean in the real world. What happens on TV does not always reflect how the real world operates. What we commonly refer to as our constitutional rights only apply to when the government is acting against us. In other words, if the police want to ask you questions and you are not free to leave, the police must read you your Miranda warnings. The police must let you know that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say can and will be used against you in court. They also must inform you that you have a right to an attorney and if you can’t afford one they will provide one for you for free. In order for questioning to continue, you have to waive your Miranda rights. If the police want to search your vehicle or your desk at work, they need a search warrant or your permission. But these rights do not apply to your employer or to your employer’s security agents, unless you work for the state, local or federal government. Your employer is not the government. The security agents work for your employer and not for the government. So, when your employer wants to ask you questions about a possible theft, they don’t have to read you your Miranda Rights. When your employer wants to search your desk at work they don’t need a search warrant nor do they need your permission.
Many people falsely believe that since their employer and their security agents did not read them their rights then anything they say to the employer and their security agents cannot be used against them in court. Again, this would be a mistake. Many Theft cases that I have handled were developed using information gathered by store security and loss prevention agents. With many of those cases it was obvious that the police allowed the employer’s security agents to gather all of the evidence before the police got involved. That’s because the police knew that it will be much easier for the prosecutor to use the evidence that was gathered by private security because private security is not hindered by the Constitution. If you talk to your employer and their security agents and make a statement the prosecutor does not have to show that you waived your Miranda Rights when you made that statement. Miranda does not apply to your employer and their security agents. In many ways, this is very unfair. If your employer asks you to come into the office and talk about a Theft investigation involving you, you know that if you do not show up to that meeting, you will probably lose your job. And, as you try to keep your job, you may try to talk yourself out of it without realizing that you’re only digging a deeper hole for yourself.
If you are being investigated by your employer for a possible Theft, or any other possible criminal matter, you need to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer before talking to your employer or to your employer’s security agents. When you talk to the criminal defense lawyer, you need to be completely honest about everything that happened. Whatever you say to your employer can be used against you in court. Your employer does not have to inform you of this before talking to them. When you talk to your employer about a possible Theft, you do not have a right to have a lawyer present. You can talk to a lawyer before going in for questioning, but you do not have the right to stop the questioning until they get you a lawyer. Many times, the smartest thing to do is to keep your mouth shut and not say anything to your employer. While that may cause you to lose your job, that may save you from being convicted in Criminal Court for a Theft and facing the possibility of going to jail.
Chicago criminal defense lawyer James Dimeas has been handling Theft cases throughout Cook County, DuPage County, and Kane County for 25 years. James Dimeas has been recognized as a “Best Criminal Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise and a Best DUI Attorney. James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer” by The National Trial Lawyers. If you are facing Theft charges, or are under criminal investigation for a Theft in Cook County, DuPage County, or Kane County, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation about your case. He will listen to your story and give you good legal advice. Mr. Dimeas can always be reached at 847-807-7405.
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