If I paid off a fine could the charges be dropped?

DETAILS

I got in trouble 3 years ago for shop lifting when I was 16 and was fined for it. They took my finger prints and mugshot. I finished paying off the fine and I always though that that would go onto my criminal record. I decided to do a background check on myself and it came back saying I was clean. Could that be possible? If it’s saying I’m clean do I still need to tell future employers that I was convicted of a crime?

ANSWER

You need to go to the courthouse and pull the actual court file to determine for certain the outcome of your case.

Go to the courthouse in the jurisdiction in which you were charged. Request your file using your name or case number. Then look inside the file to check on the final outcome of the case. If the case was dismissed, you will see a document in your file reflecting dismissal. If there was some other outcome, like a guilty plea, you will see that documentation there too.

I practiced in PA (allegheny county) and typically juveniles on a first offense were required to pay a fine and attend a class for shoplifting. If everything was done successfully, the case would be dismissed. HOWEVER, not all cases are the same and I did not practice in Scranton. Jurisdictions differ.

Also, another thing to consider, a basic record check may come back clean because you were a juvenile at the time of the offense. The State strictly limits access to juvenile criminal records. So, maybe that is why you are not seeing this offense.

Further, if there is a conviction on your record, you want to consider expungement and whether you are eligible for getting the conviction expunged. This is a pretty straightforward process and the court clerk will have some forms available for you to fill out and submit.