Without seeing the letter, it's hard to give you a firm answer to your question. You likely are facing two different court cases here - one civil and one criminal. Arizona law permits a party to collect a fine of $250.00 plus the value of the items stolen against an individual who commits the shoplifting offense. This is a separate action from the charges of shoplifting. That seems to be where they are getting the figure of $260.10. Paying that amount will not absolve you of liability from the criminal case.
Shoplifting is a class 1 misdemeanor. Therefore you are facing a maximum penalty of 3 years of probation, 6 months in jail, and a fine of $2500 plus surcharges. You also would be liable for restitution to any victim who suffered economic loss. The party cannot recover twice (i.e. through the civil proceeding as well as the criminal matter).
Shoplifting is a serious offense so I would recommend contacting a lawyer to help you through the process.
I would advise against paying and wait to talk to an attorney. I would not bring that letter to the attention of the court or the prosecutor because the criminal case is separate from the civil demand notice you received.
I would wait on that letter. You need to handle the criminal case first. When you hire an attorney, or if you are appointed an attorney show the letter to him/her. Do not show it to the prosecutor or judge.
Aaron M. Black
Criminal & DUI Defense Attorney
Martindale AV® Preeminent™ Lawyer
2012 Southwest SuperLawyer Rising Star
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Law Office of Aaron M. Black, PLLC
3219 East Camelback Road #573
Phoenix, AZ 85018
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