Being charged with petty larceny and got sent a settlement letter asking me to play $240. What is the best thing to do?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Nanuet, NY

I got fired from my job at babiessrus last week on for theft. I redeemed gift card COUPONS that are free and available to anyone without cost through magazines, doctor's office, in-store. I had 4 of these coupons and rung them up myself at a register. All together these coupons total to $40 in gift cards. After I used these coupons asset protection investigated and fired me for theft. I'm 21, a single mother, still going to school. I don't think I can even get unemployment let alone another job and now I get a letter for $240 in the mail from civil demand. I paid a civil demand back when I was 17 before.

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Yvonne F. Garbett

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

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    Answered . I agree with the previous posts in that I don't believe you should pay the civil demand at this time. I generally will contact the attorney or the company for my clients. The District Attorney's Office does not care about the civil demand payments and it will not have any bearing on your case in their decision on how to prosecute. Your statement that you would pay the civil demand before leads me to believe you may have been charged before albeit maybe not convicted, so you need take this case seriously because the outcome of the case can affect your future. Feel free to contact me at 845-290-2492 if I can answer any questions. If it is the babies-r- us in Nanuet your jurisdiction would be Clarkstown. I used to be the ADA in Clarkstown so I can give you an overview of what to expect.

    Best of luck!
    Yvonne

  2. Benjamin J Lieberman

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . The civil demand is separate and apart from any criminal charges that may be pending against you. I generally advise clients to ignore these civil demand letters. You don't owe them anything. In order for you to owe them something they would have to sue you, (in some jurisdictions prove damages which they most likely couldn't do), and win. Even if they could win, the cost of pursuing this is substantially greater than any amount they can possibly recover so they usually don't. They send out these letters because it doesn't cost much and they are hoping that you don't know better and simply send them the money. Nothing will happen to you if you don't pay it and it won't affect a criminal case one way or another. If there are criminal charges pending, get a lawyer to defend you. Take a look at an article in the Wall Street Journal at the link provided below.

  3. Eric Edward Rothstein

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . I've never seen a store sue to collect a civil demand.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases.... more
  4. Joseph A Lo Piccolo

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Atty's on AVVO recommend not paying the civil demands.


    Joseph A. Lo Piccolo, Esq.
    Immediate Past President, Criminal Courts Bar Association 11'-12'
    Hession Bekoff & Lo Piccolo
    1103 Stewart Ave, Suite 200
    Garden City, NY 11530
    516-408-3666 (o) / 516-408-3833 (f)
    Jlopiccolo@hbclaw.net

    I am a criminal defense attorney practicing in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The above information is not a... more
  5. Jason Lloyd Stern

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . In my experience, paying the civil demand has little to no bearing on the criminal case. Under New York law, an adult who commits larceny is civilly liable to the retailer for a civil penalty of five times the retail value of the MERCHANDISE. As you have described it, it is questionable whether you committed a larceny nor was any merchandise involved. The applicable law to civil penalties in retail larceny cases is NYGOL 11-105, linked below.

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