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Can a retailer use the payment of the restitution letter as evidence in criminal court

Chula Vista, CA |

I've read in this posts that retailers would more often not press criminal charges if paid the amount in the letter of restitution .. they got their merchandise back.

Now if they do press charges can they use the evidence of being paid in their case as evidence of admiting guilt, thereby your plea for "not guilty" would be shoot...

What do you recommend I would like to avoid any cops and courts and would pay the letter to the requested amount but how can that be done with out possibly incriminating myself if they press criminal charges for shoplifting?

Attorney Answers 4


Probably Not... Most offers of compromise or settlement efforts are usually inadmissible in court. Allowing them to be used against a party generally would discourage parties from resolving matters prior to coming to court. However, you might want to check with a California lawyer to make sure.

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The District Attorney or City Attorney makes the determination whether or not to press charges or prosecute a crime, not the alleged victim. Any civil demand letter that they send you may intimate that nonpayment will result in criminal charges or exacerbated criminal charges, but these are strong-arm collection tactics.

If you have not had any interaction with, and want to avoid "any cops" in this matter, it may be inferred that the police were not called at the time when you were detained for shoplifting. In the case of a misdemeanor, the police can only arrest you if the crime was committed in their presence, so the merchant would have had to have made a "citizen's arrest."

I would sit on the demand letter for now, and maybe forever. Chances are the merchant will not attempt to sue you on it.

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DO NOT PAY the civil demand letter. It has no impact on if the DA chooses to file charges. It is a scam that retailers are doing now to extort money from people. They recovered their property, they have no damages.

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I disagree that paying the demand never has any effect on the prosecutor. It sometimes does, but I wouldn't pay it unless your attorney believes it will help your criminal court case.

It would not be an admission of guilt by paying it, so long as you don't sign paperwork admitting guilt.

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So the way it works is that the merchant sents this files to the DA regardless of the restitution "being paid" or would they hold off until they get paid and then decide if they file. I would like to certainly have charges not pressed thereby electing to pay the restitution.

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