Have I Been Convicted of a Crime?

Question: “I got caught shoplifting and they sent a letter saying I had to pay a fine. I stole something that was worth $5, and it was returned unopened. The police were never called. Is this going to show up on my criminal record, or a background check? Do I check “yes” or “no” when asked if I have been convicted of a crime?”

Answer: As of now, no. In the future, not likely. You have not been prosecuted or convicted yet. It also doesn’t appear that you have been arrested, so there is nothing to appear on your record. Depending on when the event took place, and a statute of limitations, I cannot state with confidence that you cannot be prosecuted at a later time. On a job application, you can check “no” at this point because you have yet to suffer a conviction.

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    Jesse P. Duran
    Lancaster, CA Attorney Jesse P. Duran is bilingual in both English and Spanish. He graduated from the California State University of Northridge (CSUN) with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Business Law. He continued his education at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, graduating with his juris doctorate and passing the California Bar in 2006. After working in the District Attorney’s Office in Van Nuys, he went into private practice in ...
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