Q: Can I be fined for a petty theft even if cops were not called
A: Did you receive a Civil Demand Letter? This is oftentimes sent by a law firm representing the retailer that was possibly involved in your case. This is not stemming from criminal action in the case and is not ordered by a court.
more info is needed.
if you pled or were found guilty, a fine is normal.
sometimes there is a Civil fine that is not through the court. Instead, it is brought by victim.
A: Have you been fined? If so, the real question is whether you are obligated to pay it. Discuss the specifics of the matter confidentially with a lawyer for more information.
First, a "fine" in the criminal meaning is money ordered to be paid by the court after someone is convicted of a crime.
And, yes, the cops do not need to be involved at the scene or when it happened. But the fine is not imposed until after a conviction.
Here is further explanation:
If a person reports to the police that there was a theft, and they provide enough evidence (could just be words, does not have to be video, etc.) for the police to believe you probably did the offense, then the police will file a report with the local prosecutor. The prosecutor has up to a year to file a misdemeanor petty theft case against you. If you are convicted, you would have to pay a fine.
Note that a first offense of petty theft as a misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail and a fine with penalty fees of $4,200.
Another issue that is not part of criminal defense, is when a civil law firm mails a letter stating that you owe them about $500 because of dealing with the theft event. As a criminal defense attorney, I have never had a client pay this and still had criminal cases dismissed with some type of deal with the prosecutor. The prosecutor has never cared about this civil law firm letter/claim.
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