If the courthouse lost my case files regarding a petty theft,how should I proceed?

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If the courthouse lost my case files regarding a petty theft,how should I proceed?

I was arrested for petty theft. When I contacted the court house I was informed that they had lost my case file, and that I need to mail them my citation (which I no longer have). I have been unemployed for a year now, which is what led me to stealing. I have no money to pay my fine/get a lawyer, and I don’t know how to proceed. It has been 2 months since I received the notice from the courthouse and have not received anything else since. If I don’t contact the courthouse will the case be dropped? I am enrolled to start school and I am in the process of getting loans. How will this be affected?

Asked on July 25, 2011 California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In all states in this country, the prosecution bears the burden of proof in a criminal proceeding. If the file concerning the criminal action against you has been lost by the court clerk, the prosecution against you cannot prove its case. If the prosecution cannot prove its case against you, then in all likelihood the action must be dismissed.

You should contact the county bar association where you live and see if they provide services to help people like you. Even if you had the citation for the petty theft charges against you, I would not send it to the court clerk for the simple fact that you have no duty to do so, and if you sent the citation, you would only be hurting yourself.

I would write the court clerk stating you do not have the citation and that unless he or she can find your file, you want the case dismissed keeping a copy of the letter for future reference.

Good luck.


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