I was caught shoplifting in Walmart in Maryland. I was taken to a room where they asked for my identification, and got some information. I was told that no criminal charge was being placed, what does that mean? Also I was handed a piece of paper as was told that someone had the right to send a letter for 50-1000 dollars, or double what the cost of the items were (which was under 20 dollars). What is this? When can I expect it? How do I pay for it? What is the likely hood that I will receive this letter? And will this show up on my record?
I would like to note that I never signed an admission of the shoplifting, Does this effect the likely hood of having to pay the fine?
Criminal Defense Attorney
If the police weren't contacted then you weren't arrested and aren't being prosecuted. As such you haven't been convicted and do not have any record as a result of this. You will probably get a demand letter from an attorney or collection agency saying that you have to pay money. 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) and win. Even if they could (prove damages and) win the cost of suing you is substantially greater than any amoun they can ever hope to recover and as such they don't pursue it. They send out these letters hoping that you don't know better and simply send them money. Nothing will happen to you if you don pay it. It will also have no bearing on any criminal prosecution either. In the unlikely event you do hear something from thepo,ice or the courts don't ignore that and seek the assistance of an attorney ASAP.
Federal Crime Lawyer
The risk is that if you do what Walmart asks, you will have given the state everything it needs to prove you guilty in court. That might result in you having a record. They might keep their promise, but if they don't, you have no recourse. If you don't, then they might file charges too.
Information in the reply is provided as a public service. It is neither a comprehensive statement of the law nor legal advice, and no one should rely on it as such. If you have a legal problem or question, you should consult with an attorney, who can investigate the particular circumstances of your situation. Responding to a post does not constitute legal representation. I am not your lawyer, until we make an agreement and I receive my fee. Beware that posts and replies are not confidential. Anyone can read them.
Criminal Defense Attorney
They are, at this time, coming after you civilly:
The law in Maryland allows them to do so, but, also places specific requirements on them that they have to follow.
They can seek a civil penalty equal to twice the merchant's stated sales price for the merchandise, but not less than $50 nor more than $1,000.
Also, and MOST imporantly, they must send you documentation, that, amongst other things:
Contains a conspicuous notice advising you that payment of the damages and civil penalty does not preclude the possibility of criminal prosecution, but that the payment would not be admissible in any criminal proceeding as an admission or evidence of guilt.
The answer provided is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between Adam Sean Cohen and the user or browser. The opinions expressed are only the opinions of Adam Sean Cohen.