I get this question every once in awhile. A distressed person comes to me with a scenario, usually resulting from their own actions, and will ask if s/he will ‘get in trouble.’ What people need to understand that legally speaking, there is no such thing as getting in trouble. There are simply two categories: prosecution and being sued. If you committed a crime, then there is potential for being prosecuted by the State. Then again, the State does not go after all claims as its resources are limited. If it’s something small and no one is looking to press charges, then you’re most likely okay. A lawsuit is when another party sues you. You don’t have to be in the right to sue someone as initiating a lawsuit is actually pretty easy so being sued in and of itself doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. In any case, again, people’s time and resources are limited so again, if the act is small and inconsequential, then there isn’t a need to fear a lawsuit.
This explanation tends to make people feel better. ‘Getting in [legal] trouble’ is such a broad concept and can sound scary. When you break down the concepts and understand them as they are, it makes the fear a bit smaller. Now if you do find yourself in a lawsuit or being prosecuted with the State, then contacting an attorney is a good idea