I must say, this is the most divided group of responses to this very common question I have seen. The only WA licensed attorney response that indicated it was based upon actual client experiences was Ms. Gibson's. I don't know whether the other two lawyers licensed in your state are speaking from actual case experiences. Btw, if anyone besides the questioner is listening, I am not being critical of the stated opinions. There does seem to be a near consensus among your state's attorneys with respect to the likelihood of a prosecution. Were this in PA I would be extremely doubtful about a prosecution under your circumstances. The retailer has no financial incentive to tie up one or more store employees to attend hearings on the matter. I'm assuming given the nature of the business involved, there was no economic loss occasioned by the offense. That is, the merchandise was in condition to be placed back on display for sale. So, UO lost nothing and will lose financially if the case is prosecuted. There also seems to be agreement (or alternatively no disagreement) that the demand letter scam and a criminal charge are not related. Either can exist without the other, or they can coexist. So I'm missing the benefit to the questioner of making payment on the civil demand. It doesn't prevent or preclude a criminal charge. Perhaps in the absence of payment UO decides to file a civil lawsuit. Suing a member of your customer base (even one not permitted to return for two or three years doesn't strike me as good business. Admittedly they don;t want you back in the store, but they're probably happy to have all your friends, relatives, and coworkers shop there. The costs associated with filing a civil suit also seems to me to undermine it's potential. Certainly no private attorney would take on the lawsuit, and does it make sense to have corporate counsel come probably from the other end of my state, Philadelphia to pursue a civil suit. At least I don't think so. The civil demand scam is a clever answer to the retailers' dilemna. They get a negative consequence for the violator plus some cut of the money paid in response to the demand, and it costs them exactly zero $$$ and no loss of employee time. If retailers in WA push either (criminal charges or civil suit) much less both would surprise me. The civil demand is designed to deal with this type of retail theft. For myself, I would say as I have already said, ignore the civil demand, and contact counsel if you are either charged criminally or sued civilly. Tough decision, I guess, given the range of opinions. My direct email is wajonesjresq@gmail.com I would love to hear how this situation plays out for you, and of course I hope it goes well.