What can I do about Retail Theft Charge on my record when I was not arrested and was not given a court date?

Asked about 2 years ago - Bethel Park, PA

I am 23 years old and will be graduating from college in May and will be looking for job when that time comes. I will also be continuing my graduate studies after to get my MBA.

My problem is I made an idiotic mistake 2 years ago and stole a DVD from a major retail store and was caught. I was taken into the office at the retail store, they took my license information, said they were going to put me in "their system" and would be getting papers in the mail. A couple months passed and I had not received anything so I called the magistrate to see if they had any information and they did not, no court date, record, anything. So I thought that was the end, just a slap on the wrist. But I just checked a broad background check and it is showing up as Retail theft-mdse.

Additional information

Thank you gentleman, Mr. Pelger was right, I was convicted in absence as they sent my summons to the wrong address. I am now in the process of appeal and will be retaining counsel for this matter to ensure the process goes smoothly and know every option available to me.

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Robert C. Keller

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It sounds from your question that you claim never to have been served and that you never made a court appearance nor paid a fine. If this is the facts, it is possible that there is an active open case against you. There could even be a warrant. You need to immediately retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who will be able to very quickly determine the status of the case. There is much that can be done to avoid a conviction so move on this now.

  2. William A. Jones Jr.


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . You absolutely need to retain counsel to deal with this situation now. The information you obtained is equally available to prospective employers and professional schools. Applications for both will ask you directly about your criminal history. Please do not procrastinate.

  3. Forest Dean Morgan

    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . If the police were not called, then it is likely you will not be charged with a crime. The "paperwork" they are referring to is a civil demand notice.

    Certain companies have policies restricting criminal prosecution for certain thefts based upon dollar figures. (Do not post your dollar figure in response). If you are below that dollar figure, it is likely there will be no prosecution,

    No need to consult with an attorney unless/until charges are filed.

  4. Zachary Cryder Shaffer

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You might be able to work your case out for ARD, which will keep your record clean. You're going to be graduating from college, so clearly you want to take this seriously. Any major employer down the road will look quite poorly at a retail theft conviction, so make sure you hire someone to represent your interests. Good luck!

    (215)564-1634 work (215)849-2173 cell Montoya Shaffer, LLC 100 S. Broad Street, Suite 1216 Philadelphia, PA... more
  5. William Ray Pelger

    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree


    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . There is something wrong here. Either you missed a hearing at the District Justice and got convicted in absetia (absent) or the background check data base was wrong. Check your criminal history with the PA State Police. Go to their website, download form 164, complete it and send it in with a $10 money order. In a few weeks, you will get what is pretty much regarded as one of the most reliable data bases of criminal histories, along with teh FBI data base. They are shared. If nothing is on the PA State Police history, you are probably ok, but i would investigate furtehr by requesting records from the local District Justice or local courthouse. Remember, criminal data bases show arrests too and charges filed. So even if you were not convicted of the Retail Theft, but were only arrested or cited, you may have to petition the court to expunge the record of the arrest or citation. You will need an attorney to handle the expungement. I would do it right away as the process can take 9-15 months before the records you seek to destroy are actually destroyed pursuant to the court order of expugement.

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