What happens if you leave a foreign country before a court hearing in a shoplifting case?

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What happens if you leave a foreign country before a court hearing in a shoplifting case?

I am an American citizen and I am residing in Munich-Germany where I came 4 years ago to get married to a German woman.I have a resident visa valid till Jan.next year.I do not have dual citizenship.I was allowed to stay here because I was married to a German citizen.Just 3 days ago we got divorced and I had my plans since the beginning of this year to come back to USA and never leave my country anymore.Not to Germany anyway.For this I already reserved a plane ticket for a flight to USA in 5 weeks from now.Just a day before my divorce in court I made a stupid mistake of stealing few items from a store totalling the amount of 30 Euros(about $42).The Pl took me to the back office and I gave my name and address,I didn’t have my passport with me but he didn’t need it(I guess he checked me in the computer)and he called the police that came 10 minutes later.They also asked me for ID but didn’t say they need any.They filed some papers and told me that I’ll receive a letter in mail telling me a date in court and the time for this would be in bet.1 month and a half and 2 months.Then they let me go.I didn’t sign anything and they didn’t ask me to sign any papers.The items were kept by the store.The store didn’t fine me just told me that I am not allowed to shop there anymore.I didn’t tell anybody that I’ll be leaving Germany for good.It is to early to know if and when I’ll get my court date because only one week went by and no letter came yet.Usually how long does it take to receive such court summons,thinking that before this, the police has to send their file to the court?Were they right about the timing they said?My questions are:-If I’ll leave Germany (and I will not have a warrant )will I be stopped at the customs?-If by the time I’ll be out of this country and I’ll be in USA,( lets say that the court hearing comes when I’ll be in USA),what will they do about my case?Will they ask for extardition from US Govt.?-They’ll probably issue a bench warrant on my name but is this valid in the USA?Or only in Germany in a sense that if I’ll ever set foot again in this country I’ll be arrested?I don’t have any plans to come back to Germany anymore in my life.-Will I have a criminal record also in USA?I have to tell you that I never ever had any kind of problems with the law and I have a clean slate in this matter.This would be my first and last offence in my life…Regards

Asked on June 19, 2009 under Criminal Law

Answers:

M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Although I certainly am not licensed to practice law in Europe, nor am I especially familiar with European law, my first impressions are as follows:  I think that it is unlikely that the German authorities will seek extradition for a shoplifting charge.  The cost involved in tracking you down in the United States and transporting you back to Germany would far outweigh any potential governmental interest in your being prosecuted for the theft of $42.  That being said, I think that it would be prudent for you to consult with an attorney in German who is familiar with the German criminal justice process.  It is certainly possible that leaving Germany with a pending warrant would result in some consequences that I, or any other American lawyer, would not be able to foresee.


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