Tag Archives: RETAIL THEFT

I received a civil claim letter demanding 180 dollars. Do I have to pay it?

Q:I am 16 years old. I was caught shoplifting 30 dollars worth of merchandise. I was detained until someone came to pick me up, though no one came so they released me. No police were involved. I had to sign 2 or 3 papers, I was so nervous I didn’t read what I signed. They took down my info including my social security number. Yesterday, I received a civil claim letter demanding 180 dollars. Do I have to pay it? What happens if I don’t? I don’t have the money too.

A: These civil demands are generally from some out of town law firm who will not sue you in your local court over a $150 or $200 demand. Most attorneys advise to ignore them. However, there have been instances in which I had to be creative in persuading the store employee and DA into dropping the charges. In those situations, I used payment of the civil demand along with other things I had my client do before the hearing, as a justification for a dismissal. Payment of the civil demand, although not necessary, was one more positive factor weighing in favor of my client when I was able to convince the judge to dismiss the charges. I would say, do not rush to pay it and seek the advice of an attorney before doing so. The attorney can also advise you as to whether your case should be in juvenile court or not.

WHAT IS SENTENCE FOR MY FIRST RETAIL THEFT OFFENSE?

Q. Do I have a chance of going to jail for retail theft? I was caught shoplifting. Total was $180. This is my first time stealing from a retail store. I got fingerprinted and everything. Now I have a preliminary hearing next week. I’m really scared and nervous. I got a public defender. What should I expect at the court? Do I have a chance of going to jail or can they give me some community service and a fine?

A: Unless you have a history or retail thefts, jail is not likely. If this is your first offense, have your Public Defender look into a first time offender program for Retail Theft to see if your Public Defender can negotiate a withdrawal of the charge with the District Attorney’s Office.

SHOULD I PAY THE CIVIL DEMAND FOR MY RETAIL THEFT CHARGES?

Q. Do I need to pay a “Civil Demand” from Wal-Mart’s lawyer?Last year, on approximately May 28th, 2012, I made the big mistake of stealing from Wal-Mart. It was a 422.00 bathing suit, and looking back now I realize it was a stupid idea. This was my first ever offense. They took me into the front of the store and called the police. I had to pay a fine from the court for $300, which I completely paid off back in November (payment plan). Today I received a letter from some law offices stating that I needed to pay $150 in civil restitution. Do I have to pay this civil demand? Why would they send it almost 9 months after the incident? Like I said, I paid my fine with the court and the law has not bothered me about it. I was always on time with my payments. And now suddenly I have a $150 demand for “damages”. Help please?

A: You were charged with a misdemeanor which obviously they lowered to a summary offense which is punishable up to a $300.00 fine or 90 days in jail and you received the fine. If this was your first offense, this is unfortunate as an attorney may have been able to get the charges reduced by getting the DA to agree to a diversionary program. If it was not your first offense or the DA would not offer a program, then the deal you received was fair. As far as the civil judgment, do not pay it, especially if the criminal case was resolved. It is most likely from some out of state law office who is not going to hire an Allegheny County attorney to sue you for a couple hundred dollars. These companies or law firms that provide this service for the department store send these letters to everyone who is arrested by the store they have contracted. Most people that are charged feel it will somehow benefit their case and pay without first consulting with a lawyer.

SHOULD I PAY THE CIVIL DEMAND FOR MY RETAIL THEFT CHARGES?

Q. Do I need to pay a “Civil Demand” from Wal-Mart’s lawyer?Last year, on approximately May 28th, 2012, I made the big mistake of stealing from Wal-Mart. It was a 422.00 bathing suit, and looking back now I realize it was a stupid idea. This was my first ever offense. They took me into the front of the store and called the police. I had to pay a fine from the court for $300, which I completely paid off back in November (payment plan). Today I received a letter from some law offices stating that I needed to pay $150 in civil restitution. Do I have to pay this civil demand? Why would they send it almost 9 months after the incident? Like I said, I paid my fine with the court and the law has not bothered me about it. I was always on time with my payments. And now suddenly I have a $150 demand for “damages”. Help please?

A: You were charged with a misdemeanor which obviously they lowered to a summary offense which is punishable up to $300.00 or 90 days in jail and you received the fine. If this was your first offense, this is unfortunate as an attorney may have been able to get the charges reduced by getting the DA to agree to a diversionary program. If it was not your first offense or the DA would not offer a program, then the deal you received was fair. As far as the civil judgment, do not pay it. It is most likely from some out of state law office who is not going to hire an Allegheny County attorney to sue you for a couple hundred dollars