Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Thanks for your question.
Kohls could still turn over the evidence to the District Attorney's office and ask them to pursue charges -ultimately, it is the prosecutor who makes the determination. The statute of limitations on theft in California is one year for a misdemeanor, and three years for a felony. How the crime would be charged depends on the amount of merchandise you allegedly attempted to steal; my experience is that for the majority of people, it's a misdemeanor.
In this case, I don't think Kohls will pursue criminal charges, unless you should be caught in one of their stores again, in which case, they could have your arrested and charged with trespassing. It seems that you were cooperative, and in this instance, the store only wanted to recover the costs of its investigation, which you promptly paid. If they wanted to arrest you, they were far more likely to have called the police when you were detained. Obviously, I cannot promise nor guarantee that criminal charges will not be filed, but I am skeptical that they will be.
Good luck to you. If you have any additional questions, please press the reply button, and I will be happy to assist you further.
DISCLAIMER: This response is limited by the information that you have provided to this lawyer. Based on the information you have provided, I have responded based on my knowledge and interpretation of existing laws. It is possible that if the same question was asked to another lawyer, the response could be different. This response is for "Legal Informational" purposes only and should not be confused with "Legal Advice" and nothing in this response should be construed as legal advice for any individual case. Under no circumstances does this response directly or indirectly, establish or intend to establish an Attorney-Client relationship. This response is not and shall not be construed as a solicitation for the legal services of any attorney. If you have already retained a lawyer in connection with this inquiry and this fact is unknown to this lawyer, this response should not be construed as impending and/or interfering with your attorney-client relationship with such attorney.
This information is limited in scope and is confined to the question asked and should not be relied upon to provide a comprehensive picture of any particular situation and you are strongly encouraged to seek counsel for further course of action, if applicable. In other words, this response is not intended nor shall it be construed as providing you with all the information that your legal questions/issues may require. If you do require legal advice and retention/hiring of an attorney, I encourage you to consult an attorney who is actively engaged in the practice of law in the area of law relevant to your legal questions/issues and who is admitted to the bar or lawyer licensing agency in your jurisdiction(s) or the jurisdiction(s) that has jurisdiction over your legal questions/issues. This attorney is not responsible for any loss, injury, claim, liability, or damage related to your use of this response, whether from errors or omissions in the content of the response or any other sites that I may provide to you for reference.
Thanks for your answer. After reading through your answer, I came up with the following questions:
1. Can a retail store file a case in Criminal court(with the DA) even though no police were involved?.
2. Is it also possible that Kohls would have handed over my info to the local police dept?.
3. The amount I stole was around $55.Do you think Kohls will file a case against me for this amount?.
4. From your experience have your seen retail stores coming back after months to file charges against a shoplifter ?.
Thanks for your reply.
For questions 1-3, the answer is "yes." The police don't necessarily need to be involved, the store can simply forward on any evidence they have, such as a video tape of the alleged theft along with statements from store security, etc., and leave it to the prosecutor to decide. $55 worth of merchandise would be a misdemeanor, by the way. Kohls could come after you for that amount; I've seen stores prosecute people for $10. But, my gut is telling me they aren't going to do so. If they really wanted to, they could have had you arrested on the spot, but they didn't do so. Instead, you essentially paid a fine to the store to cover their investigation costs. For the store to turn over the evidence now is pointless -they've gotten their money, they have their merchandise, and they have all your information should you go into one of their stores again. Pressing charges at this point would only cost them more money in having to deal with the prosecutor, send a security person to court to testify, etc. Not worth it to them, in my opinion -my money is on this being a done deal in their minds.
As to question 4, no, in my experience, the shoplifting cases I have seen have all been where people were arrested immediately. I've never come across a case with a person being arrested months later. Again, not saying it couldn't happen, just that it's highly improbable. I don't think you have to live in fear of being arrested.
Thanks for your detailed reply. Few last questions I have :
1. The evidence in this case was the fitting room attendant who saw the tags lying on the floor after I walked out of the fitting room. She was called into the back office by the LP when he was writing down my info. However,he did not ask me to sign any papers.
2. Is Kohls going to post my information to any kind of database?. I have read about shoplifting databases. Also will this incident show up in any background check screening?.
3.Typically how long does it take to get a court date after the incident ?.
Thank you for your reply.
1) That evidence is circumstancial at best. Assuming the worst case scenario, that you actually were arrested/charged, the prosecutor would have to prove his case based on that alone. Without other witnesses or a security tape to back that up, a prosecutor might decide to just drop the whole thing. It's good you didn't sign anything.
2) Honestly, I've never heard of a shoplifting database-at least nothing on a national sense, if that's what you mean? Any database I think Kohls might keep would be internal for the store/company. I know when I worked years ago for a large retail chain, our security team kept a log book of all shoplifters. We were able to compare names with other stores within the company this way whenever we caught a shoplifter. They may also (though I doubt this, given the size of their company) distribute your information to all of their stores in the event you are stopped in one -they could arrest you for shoplifting. Kohls is a huge company though, and I just don't see a situation where if you entered a store in Florida, they would somehow recognize you from California.
Since there was no arrest, there are no court records, no fingerprints, etc. It won't show up in any background check.
3) Do you mean if you were arrested? Assuming that this did happen (doubtful), you would either be given bail or released pending a court hearing. When that happens depends a lot on how busy the courts are, and I know L.A. County is just about the busiest in the country. An arraingment would likely be held within weeks, and if your lawyer was not able after that to reach some sort of plea deal with the prosecutor and you wanted to go to trial, well, that could take months. Generally speaking, you are entitled to a "speedy trial", which means in most states, unless you waive this right, the state would have to bring you to trial within about 90 days on a misdemeanor charge.
Hope this helps.
Thanks again. I think I was not clear with my 3rd question.
1. Assuming the scanario that Kohls passed on my info to DA office's ,how long will it take for me to get a court date ?. It's a month now since the incident has happened.
2. Also I'm planning to go out of the country next March due to personal reasons. I'll be out of the country for several years. During this time if I receive court summons or police arrest I will not know since I'll be out of the country. In that situation,what do I do?. Do I need to call or inform anyone before I leave the country?.
3. How do I find out if there is a case pending against me or not?. Is there any office where I can call?. I called the civil demand collection agency and they said they don't have any criminal case information and they only deal with civil suits.
1) Ah, I see what you mean. Well, the statute of limitations is a year, so they have a year from the date of the incident to actually file if they wanted to -so I can't tell you if and when it would happen. But keep in mind, every day that goes by, the chance of them actually filing decreases -new cases continue to pour in, and older, lesser cases get forgotten.
2) I would say if by next March you haven't heard anything, you're certainly in the clear. If there is no case pending (and I doubt there will be) you don't have to do anything but go and enjoy yourself. No need to let anyone know.
3) At this point, a warrant would have to be issued for your arrest. So, you could contact the L.A. County Sheriff's Office warrant division, and see if you have an outstanding warrant. I'd be shocked if you did.
Thanks again. One final question.
For how long will Kohls keep my info in their database?.If I apply for a job in future in Target,Macys etc..will they hire me ?.
I think any database Kohls would keep would be internal -for their company use only. I'm not aware of any database that is shared between stores or anything of that nature (though you know, that's not a bad idea!). And, since stores like Target, Macy's, etc. will at most do only a criminal background check when you apply , and nothing will show up on your criminal background, you should be fine.
Hope all of this was a little helpful. :)
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).