This incident happened 17 years ago. Was shoplifting. Police was called, got my picture taken, and a citation. I failed to go to court or pay the citation. This is my first and last offense. I did post a question in the Criminal Law section about this too but wasn't sure I can use that thread for immigration issue as well so I am posting it here.
Anyways, there is no warrant for my arrest. I contacted the court house to get the status of this incident so I can resolve it and was told that I was already found guilty of retail theft (not sure the offense level: ie. petty, gross, felony, etc.). by default because of no show to court and no payment to court. They didn't tell me I have to pay my citation and when I ask, said I could send them payment still.
If I pay the citation now, would it still be difficult to get citizenship and would they see this as not good moral character since I did not take care of the incident right away? Would it be better if I consult an immigration lawyer first before applying?