What should I do if I was charged for petty theft and made one court appearance but then moved away?

UPDATED: Jul 22, 2015

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What should I do if I was charged for petty theft and made one court appearance but then moved away?

I made an appearance once for court then moved to another state due to personal reasons. My appearance was over 18 months ago. Wondering if this apply to my statutes of limitations or what course of action I should take?

Asked on July 22, 2015 under Criminal Law, California


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

There is a chance the prosecutor has dismissed the case against you if it is the policy of that jurisdiction to "clean up cases" after a year or so of inactivity. However, if the case is still pending, you will not get a dismissal because of the statute of limitations issues.

The statute of limitation begins to run on the day an offense is alleged to have occurred... and continues until a case is filed. A case must be dismissed if it wasn't filed timely.  If your case was filed within the statute of limitations, then your case won't be dismissed just because you didn't appear for court.

However... you may have an argument for a speedy trial violation.  This is occurs where a case is filed within the statute of limitations, but takes so long to prosecute that evidence becomes stale.  Some jurisdictions will let you pursue this motion and seek a dismissal of your case.  Others will not on the basis that you should not get a benefit by way of your conduct, namely, not appearing for court.

At this point, your first step should be to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney to help you resolve the criminal case... assuming that it is still active.  Considering this is a petty theft charge, you may be able to get it resolved by simply paying restitution and performing some community service hours. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption