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Caught shoplifting. No police involved, just a warning, but received a civil demand letter. What now?

Philadelphia, PA |

I got caught shoplifting couple weeks ago and received a civil demand letter later. It was my first time I only took 15$ worth of merchandise. The LP didn't call the police and also say that it won't be on my record nor will I receive a court date. They did took information about me (address, name , DOB, height, weight and nationality). I am going to pay the civil demand but using the payment plan. After I pay would I still need to be worry about police or court date? The LP did say nothing going to happen after he receive their merchandise back and the incident would only be on their data base.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. I would still contact a criminal defense attorney who is local so that you can take the letter to them for a consultation on what you obligation is with respect to the civil deman letter.

    If you do get a court date, then you need to hire a criminal defense attonrey who can respresent you and advise you based on the facts and surrounding cirucmstances of your case.

    In the meantime, don't talk to anyone about your situation as what you say can be used against you. Good luck in court and hope this has been helpful.

    DISCLAIMER This answer is provided for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site cannot be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices law in the State where this offense is charged; and, who has experience in the area of law you are asking questions about and with whom you would have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question, or in the State where this charge is filed. I am an attorney licensed to practice in the State of New Jersey. Consult a local attorney if your case arises outside the State of New Jersey. If you found this answer to be HELPFUL then you can vote that this answer was helpful. If you found this answer to be the BEST ANSWER of all those presented, then you can vote that this answer was the best answer presented.


  2. This is extremely common. If the police did not appear, there is no record an arrest. You have no arrest record, fingerprints, charges etc. A civil demand does not become due unless they actually file a suit and get a judgment. Many attorneys will advise their clients not to pay the demand.


  3. Those demand letters are tricky. Many times, my clients receive these and they are written, supposedly, by a law firm that is not licensed to practice law in GA, where I practice. You can ignore the letter, but if you are served with a civil law suit, you may need an attorney to keep the store from getting a judgment against you. If the LP served you with a criminal trespass warning, make sure you keep out of that store.

    I am an attorney. I am not your attorney unless you have signed a written contract with me and given me money. This is information for educational purposes only, and no attorney-client privilege exists.


  4. The civil demand has absolutely nothing to do with a criminal case. 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. Take a look at an article in the Wall Street Journal at the link provided below.

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