Many people who misuse company funds start small. Maybe after charging a meal with a client and gas for a business trip, they also decided to charge gas purchases for their personal vehicle or a lunch that didn’t involve a client or work.

This kind of financial fraud involving expense accounts, credit cards or cash allowances from an employer can result in allegations of either fraud or embezzlement. These white-collar crimes can result in financial consequences, jail time and difficulty moving your career forward.

Make sure you understand and follow your employer’s expense policy

Companies have different rules regarding what expenses they will cover for employees. In order to avoid disciplinary or legal action by your employer, it’s essential to learn and adhere to your company’s policy on reimbursable spending.

Some companies may allow workers to charge or write off minor spending that will not be tax deductible for the company as a kind of perk, so it’s important not to make assumptions based on policies at previous companies where you’ve worked.

Learn all your options before you make decisions

If your employer alleges that you embezzled or engaged in fraudulent spending at their expense, it is likely that they also terminated your employment at the same time if they alerted law enforcement to the issue.

Before you make any decisions about accepting plea bargains or negotiating with your former employer, it’s important that you really understand all of the options available to you. The better informed you are, the easier it will be to make a decision that minimizes the impact of these allegations on your life.