My friend and I stopped in a Kmart to use the bathroom with NO intention to steal anything. One thing led to another, and we took socks. It's so stupid of us. She took about 2 packs, $6 each. I took 1 pair of socks from a 3 pack that was around $4. Upon leaving, we were stopped and asked to go to the backroom because we stole. He said since we cooperated he wasn't going to call the police and this wouldnt go on our criminal record. He made us sign paperwork stating what we stole and that we would never return to that store. He said we would be fined in the mail. How much are these fines, and how do they get paid? Once we pay the fine is this whole situation behind us? Thanks.
Criminal Defense Attorney
The "fine" is a civil demand, and generally criminal attorneys suggest not paying it. The remedy for not paying it is suing you, and they aren't likely to. They'll harass you for the money, but you can ignore it if you choose. It will have nothing to do with if the case is pursued in criminal court or not - those things are independent of each other. If you do pay, you go on a national list of shoplifters and can't get a job in retail, I think.
Federal Crime Lawyer
To answer your question directly, the amount is usually $150 plus the cost of the items involved. However, payment of this amount does NOT mean that you cannot be prosecuted criminally. The best advice is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney in confidence. He or she can best advise you of the impact of this mistake upon your individual circumstances. Post nothing further about this incident on this or any other public site, such as Facebook or Twitter, as your statements online can be used against you. Good luck.
I agree with what has been said thus far. This is a well-worn topic here and elsewhere across the country. I consistently advise clients to ignore the letters. There will be multiple letter of the same sort over the course of a few months. If the store obtained a valid phone number for you guys they will attempt to contact you that way. The letters are normally from an attorney or law firm. This is what they do--crank out letters to people such as yourself. If you pay, or even partially pay they win; well worth the paper, envelope, and postage. If you don't respond they will give up and move on to the next victim. IF you receive a letter from a magistrate's office (it will not be hard to tell) pay very close attention to that, and contact legal counsel immediately. The Civil Demand is to be ignored. You can check this website for many, many iterations on this question if your interested in a broader sampling of lawyer opinions. It sounds like no criminal charge is coming. That's really tremendous news. Make sure the lesson has been firmly learned. You will have a long life to regret getting a criminal record for a theft offense.
I agree with the above answers but would add that I have seen loss prevention persons tell an alleged shoplifter the same thing, and then a few days later a citation for summary retail theft arrives in the mail. If this happens, you should absolutely speak with a criminal defense attorney in the area that can discuss your options. Do not simply plead guilty.
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