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How long does it take for a warrant to typically be issued for shoplifting if no arrest was made/

Spring, TX |

Shopping last week, accidentally and forgetfully walked past the point of payment areas for some of my merchandise. I had not put any stolen property in my clothing, purse, etc. I simply got distracted. I was approached by store security and accused of theft. I was told they could not take me into custody due to there not being an officer available. I was told I would have a warrant issued for my arrest. I am clearly being proactive and checking daily on this situation, but I have yet to find a warrant in my name. I am unsure if the store has simply looked at how ridiculous these accusations are (I had spent over $500 there that day and was with my child in and out of four hours worth of appts in the optical dept...distracted). How long does it generally take to see the warrant issued?

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

If the police weren't called at the time it may very well be that you won't ever be criminally charged (though it is possible). You may, however receive a letter from an attorney or collection agency demanding that you pay them money on behalf of the store. 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 and it will have zero affect on whether or not you will be criminally prosecuted. If, however, you do receive something from the courts do not ignore that and seek the assistance of an attorney ASAP.

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

Well, it has been nearly two months since the incident, and no criminal charges have been filed thus far. I did, however, receive a letter like the one you described yesterday in the mail. It is demanding $500. I never took anything from the store, and I clearly feel like paying them would suggest that I am guilty. The letter states that if I pay it, they will not "pursue it further". What does this mean? If I don't pay it, what will they do to me? Will this give them incentive to file criminal charges since they have apparently decided not to do so?

Benjamin J Lieberman

Benjamin J Lieberman

Posted

At this point it is extremely unlikely that they will pursue criminal charges. Additionally, it is probably unlawful for them to threaten criminal prosecution in an effort to extort a civil penalty. Their comment about pursuing it further I suspect relates to civil litigation which, as I’ve previously indicated, isn’t really cost effective for them to pursue.

Posted

You are more fortunate than most in this situation. Had an officer been available you would have found yourself in a huge mess over the mishap. While unfortunate as it is that you have to wait and see if this will ever turn into anything, chances are it won't and you should try and return to life as usual. Maybe check on it in a few months, but worrying about it now won't help because there is not much you can do about it at this point. If it does ever turn into something, get an attorney ASAP and don't make any statements. Even acknowledging you were there could give the State more evidence than they already have. And what they already have may not be enough to proceed once it sees the cold bright lights of a courtroom and a prosecutor takes the time to review it.

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