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Do I have a criminal record?

Daly City, CA |

I got caught stealing a 15 dollar hat from this store. Police were not involved, but I was sent a letter two weeks later for a fine I must pay. Does this mean I have a criminal record? Do I have to pay the fine? What will happen if I don't pay?

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Attorney answers 3


The letter that you got is likely a civil demand letter. It carries no legal authority and you do not have to pay it. Most likely, but depending on the store, they will never follow up with their letters. If you were never cited or arrested by police and never charged by the District Attorney/City Attorney, you don't have a criminal record. Still, there is a shoplifting database that could make it difficult to get a job in retail.


Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
t. 323.803.4352 | f. 323.617.3838
Sunset Law Building | 1295 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA | 90026


That is likely a civil demand letter. The prosecution may still charge regardless. They have a year to charge.
If you do not pay the store can sue civilly. This is not a criminal record.

This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient factual/legal documentation to give a complete answer to your question and there may be more to the issues you raised then I have set out in my brief reply


Co cops = no arrest = no court case and no prosecution which = no record.
No fine in mail. Only courts issue a fine. It is a civil demand. If item was recovered in useable condition, then proof of damages difficult. Usual advice here is to just ignore the demand.

The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.

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