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Is there such a thing as a "local" misdemeanor?

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What is the name of your state? New Jersey

In 1994, I was arrested and convicted on a misdemeanor charge of shoplifting and given a $500 fine. I was essentially homeless at the time and told the judge at that time that I wouldn't be able to pay the fine. My public defender basically made no effort to get the fine lowered, although he knew my circumstances. The judge had kind of a "whatever" attitude as well. The case was tried in a municipal court rather than a county court. This was the first and only time I had ever been arrested, and it was the most humiliating event I've ever had to experience. Unfortunately, due to financial distress I was never able to pay the fine.

The strange thing is that, to the best of my knowledge, this conviction has never shown up in any check done on me. I had a situation where I had moved to another state and New Jersey had a record of an unpaid traffic ticket, but not a word was said about this. There also seems to be no record of this in any public records search, and I have searched the county in which this took place. Admittedly this was my only experience with the legal system, and in a way I've been waiting for the "knock on my door." I'm in a position to take care of this, but I'm afraid that if I try to contact someone, I'll start even more trouble. Is it possible that there's only a record in New Jersey, or even just in the municipality where it took place? I've heard that warrants can be issued for non-payment of fines, so you would think that I would have heard something long before this. I don't necessarily want it expunged--I was guilty, and it was a incredibly stupid thing to do--but how can I take care of it when so much time has passed and no one seems to know about it?

Sorry this is so long, but this is really worrying me.



First, the US Supreme Court has ruled that a person who cannot pay a fine cannot be sent to jail in lieu of the fine. Also, if there is no record of the conviction, my advice would be to just let it alone. There is no such thing as a "local" misdemeanor to my knowledge, but there is such a thing as local records just falling by the wayside and not being reported to any other agency.

As the old saying goes, "let sleeping dogs lie"

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