I got caught shoplifting like a $5 item, first time shoplifting too, im 17. Lp caught me & I returned the item and she took down my address, name, etc. Said I'll be in the system for 90 days and said I'll recieve a letter being sued by walmart called a "civil demand" where I will have to pay a fine between $100-$1000. No police was involved and I recieved the letter about 2 weeks later, stating I have to pay $250. I don't get paid enough at work for this in such short notice. What should I do? Am I going to be arrested and go to court if I pay? What if I don't pay?
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
It is highly unlikely you will be arrested and ther civil demand issue has nothing to do with court. There is a law in Illinois which allows for civil action collection when there is a retail theft. Most people choose to ignore the demand. This demand is for money over and above any fine you pay in compliance with a court order. People may get a few more letters, each time asking for more, and then they stop. While the retailer can sue you, it is extremely rare for anyone to actually be sued. You do not owe any money unless you are sued and the retailer wins. This is a common ploy. Do not pay. If you do, you will be in the national retailers database which could affect your ability to get a job and could impact your life in other ways. If you are uncomfortable, hire a lawyer and have the lawyer write a letter. That should be the end of it.
Here is a good article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120347031996578719.html
The National Retail Theft Database is actually a voluntary list put together by different individual retailers. Further, any member that published the information on the list, can thereafter, remove it. Therefore, if you wish to have the entry removed, as you apparently do, your best bet would be to write a letter to the manager of the particular store and inquire as to what it would take for them to remove the entry.
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2 lawyers agree
Criminal Defense Attorney
As a rule, I advise clients to ignore these civil demand letters. Unless you signed some agreement to pay this store, you owe them nothing. In order for you to owe them something they would have to sue you and win. However, It would cost them much more to sue you than they can ever hope to recover so they usually don’t pursue it.
With that in mind, I would advise that they can still take legal action against you by filing suit in small claims court. If you ignore these actions, a default judgment will be entered against you. So, although you can ignore the civil demand letter, do not ignore anything that comes from a court.
Legal disclaimer: The answer provided is general in nature and because not all facts are known, it should not be construed as legal advice. The answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.