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I was caught shoplifting at Urban Outfitters in Seattle yesterday. The item was worth 70 dollars. I was taken to a room and gave

Bellevue, WA |

the manager my license. She had me sign a trespass note and gave me a civil demand notice. No police was involved and this is my first offense and I am 21. I am wondering if anybody has dealt with shoplifters from Urban Outfitters and if so, do Urban Outfitters usually prosecute ? Also I read everywhere that I should ignore the Civil Demand letter, should I do that in this case? Would Urban Outfitters sue?

I should specify when I ask if Urban Outfitters usually prosecute I meant how often do they criminally charge their shoplifters?

Attorney Answers 7


  1. I will defer to my colleagues licensed in WA. My firm belief and advice to clients is to ignore the civil demand letters. (Yes there will be more; once you recognize the envelope don't even open them before discarding. The increasingly high amount they are trying to get you to start paying on normally goes up.) If UO chooses to sue you civilly (very unlikely) then you should consult with an attorney. If you receive a criminal summons or other legal document showing that you have been charged criminally, likewise contact legal counsel. Good luck and let's see what the experts in WA have to say.


  2. It appears they do prosecute. check out this link.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=urban+outfitters+shoplifting&aq=f&oq=urban+outfitters+shoplifting&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    Please be advised that answering your questions does not establish an attorney-client relationship with myself or my firm. We would be more than happy to set up a free consultation if you call us at 407-588-6714 and specifically mention AVVO or email me at bill@thelawman.net and put AVVO in the subject line.


  3. My experience in VA has been that:

    (1) demand letters and payment of them has NO impact on whether police are contacted or charges filed--its a legal form of shaking down the shoplifter IMV since the demands these days push north of $300 or $400 in many areas.

    (2) you may receive a summons in the mail from the courts--in which case you need to contact a criminal defense attorney ASAP. If you receive no summons in the next few weeks--you dodged a bullet, consider the matter a good learning experience and don't shoplift again! Best of luck to you.

    READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I am providing educational instruction only--not legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.


  4. If you pay the civil demand, make absolute sure that you get a letter in return that states that Urban Outfitters has been fully satisfied. That way, if you ever do get charged, you may apply to the court for dismissal under RCW 10.22.

    I suspect that if you don't pay the civil demand, they will refer to the prosecutor's office for filing of charges. Although, they may do that anyway. Just because police weren't involved originally, doesn't mean that the store can't involve police down the road.


  5. I must slightly disagree with my Tacoma colleague in that in my experience as a former public defender, it doesn't matter if you pay the civil demand, most retailers do both -- send a civil demand letter AND pursue criminal charges. AND just because the police did not come to the scene does not mean that charges won't be filed.

    Donna Gibson 425-336-2255 I am licensed to practice in the states of Washington and Michigan . This information is provided as a public service to provide a general answer and should not be relied upon as legal advice. You should seek an attorney in your area who can look at your specific facts and give you a more definitive answer based on local laws, which can vary greatly from state to state.


  6. I would advise you to pay it. As other attorneys have pointed out, most likely you will be charged with theft as well. As Mr. Kertchen pointed out, a common resolution to first time shoplifting cases is a misdemeanor compromise, which allows the case to be dismissed if you have paid the civil restitution and satisfied the victim. So if you are charged with theft, the criminal case will (potentially) go away much easier and faster if you have paid the civil restitution. Keep a record of all payments and get a letter stating you have paid in full.


  7. My experience in WI has been that there is no benefit to paying the civil demand. There seems to be no relationship between paying a civil demand and prosecution. If you pay the civil demand you would not have to pay duplicate restitution in a criminal court.

    The practice in Washington may be different and you have answers from Washington lawyers advising you to pay (and one advising to not pay). The laws in each state are different. You may want to read the links below on Civil Demand letters.

    Confidential information should not be disclosed in this Internet forum. Click on the "More..." link for IMPORTANT INFORMATION about this AVVO Answer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I am an experienced Wisconsin lawyer. The laws in each jurisdiction can be very different. I cannot give legal advice over the internet nor can I establish an attorney client relationship with you. You should NOT assume or otherwise conclude that there is an attorney -client relationship between any reader and this writer or his firm. These comments are only guideposts. They are not subject to any privilege protections. Indeed, these internet communications are neither privileged nor confidential. Accordingly, those using this form of communication need to be guarded in what they write. Because of the nature of these communications the information is general only and should not be relied upon in any specific case. This internet site is public forum, where the communications are not confidential or privileged. There may very well be merit to your defense or position in this type of situation. However, there are hardly sufficient details for an attorney to provide you with some path to follow. It is imperative that ALL of the facts in a particular situation be examined. No conclusion can be drawn from the communication that you have provided. There are some matters that are just better handled by an attorney familiar with the procedures of the courts in your area. Most, if not all, legal matters should not be handled via internet communication. At best, the responders on this site can give you a few hints and guidance. To deal with a legal problem, nothing is better than to consult with a lawyer who will give you some time and advice. If you cannot afford an attorney, there should be agencies in your area that can provide discounted, or even free, legal services. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation. Your question and the attorney’s answer may be used for promotional or educational purposes.

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