For those who have committed certain misdemeanor-level criminal offenses (not a felony), including vandalism and certain theft cases (but, not “hit & run” cases), a legal remedy known as a “civil compromise” (Penal Code section 1377) may be available to the client. In these types of cases, if the alleged victim is compensated for their loss(es) and otherwise agree that they do not desire further criminal prosecution of the case, a judge can order that the case be dismissed. The extraordinary aspect of a civil compromise is that the judge’s order to dismiss the case can be made over the objection of the prosecutor.
A civil compromise remedy is a great way to maintain a “clean” record and to avoid other negative consequences associated with a conviction, such as immigration or employment. It is important to understand that this remedy has to be affirmatively pursued by the attorney, on behalf of the client. It doesn’t “just happen”. The reason for this is because not all victims may be willing to forego a criminal prosecution. Therefore, it may require some gentle diplomacy to get a victim on board with this type of resolution, but to many victims, the offer of early compensation for their loss can be very helpful in encouraging their cooperation with a civil compromise approach.