Repentant Richard wrote:

Hi guys!

I read this discussion on your website:

In that discussion Teemu T. asked:

"Now, I'm wondering: Should I confess my crimes to the police, or Is it enough that I have confessed them to God?"

You answered:

It depends on the severity of the crimes performed. If you have defrauded someone, you can go and repay them, even anonymously. If it is a more severe crime or set of crimes: Yes, you have to confess them to the police.

If they were minor ones, consider casually talking to a policeman at the corner about what you did and ask him for his assessment. For short, [and both | God and Police] would be wise.

I would recommend you talk to a Catholic priest or Lutheran minister known for his holiness. They will be able to help you appropriately assess your past.

We have a forgiving God, but appropriate recompense [to pay or give compensation for; make restitution or requital for (damage, injury, or the like)] still has to be made.

In my case: I have also committed some crimes in the past. I didn't know if any of them were mortal sins, (except one of which I'm not sure was even a crime), since I wasn't educated well on the topic of mortal sins in the Lutheran church. Now I'm going to start my Catholic catechesis and probably convert to Catholicism in the near future.

  • In my case, where do I draw the line between severe crimes and minor crimes?
  • And, is it a mortal sin not to confess a severe crime to the police?

Here are the following crimes I have done:

  • I have stolen candy and at least two music CD's when I was 15-years-old
    (the CD's are lost now and the candy has been consumed).
  • Before I was 15, I have hit several boys.
  • When I was 13 or 14 years old, I wrote some graffiti (at least two of them) with a marker.
  • I wrote graffiti on a wall, when I was about 16 or 17 years old and also wrote graffiti (not too big and more like a tag) when I was in my upper teens.
  • I have:
    • tried marijuana a few times.
    • watched illegal YouTube videos
    • illegally downloaded music and at least a couple of videos, and
    • jaywalked.

I have talked with a Catholic priest about this. I mentioned the graffiti, stealing candy and CD's, and smoking marijuana (In my opinion, these three were the worst ones). He said, that I shouldn't tell the police but instead make compensation for these sins. He said, that the crimes I had done were not that severe, and said that I should have thought about my family members as well since they wouldn't want me convicted by the police.

I am most worried about the graffiti, since in Finland there is very strong punishment (in my opinion too strong a punishment) for writing graffiti. One person was in prison for over a year for writing several graffiti.

  • What should I do?
  • Should I turn myself in for these crimes, or should I just somehow compensate for them?
  • And, is it a mortal sin, if I don't turn myself in?

I'm afraid of prison and getting a criminal record. The priest I talked with, said that I could, for example, give money for the poor and compensate that way. I also wondered if I could get volunteer work with a firm that cleanses graffiti, but I wouldn't know where to find such a company.

  • What do you say?
  • What should I do?


  { Should I turn myself in for these crimes or should I just compensate for these sins|shortcomings? }

Eric replied:


I wouldn't worry about turning yourself in, just do some sort of restitution and don't worry about it.


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