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I was caught shoplifting with a friend about four years ago . sears sent me a civil demand letter and ignored it.

Anaheim, CA |

i moved from that apt and lost track of what i recived. Iam now trying to apply for the dream act will this count as a misdemeanor ?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Best answer

    If you question is whether not paying the civil demand will count as a misdemeanor, the answer is no. You were not ordered by a court to pay anything, that was just an offer to civilly compromise the case. They likely cannot even prove you ever received the demand. That will not be your major concern.

    Your question does not say whether you were prosecuted criminally for the shoplifting and whether you either pled guilty or were found guilty. If you were found guilty of a misdemeanor involving (moral turpitude i.e. theft) it could become an issue for you. However, you did not indicate that is what happened, so I really can't speak to that part of your question.


  2. No. Unless the police were called and responded, you were not arrested for a misdemeanor. If you did not appear in court, you were not prosecuted for a misdemeanor. If you did not plead guilty or get convicted at the end of a trial, you were not convicted of a misdemeanor. If you did not appear in court, get convicted (or plead guilty, which has the same effect as a conviction), and have a judge order you to pay that amount, you had no leagl obligation to pay.

    Civil demand letters are little more than extortion. In most cases, the items have been recovered and a letter is later sent demanding an obscenely out of proprtion amount by a law firm. I never recommend that people pay these. If, on the other hand, a judge ordered you to pay restitution in the order of "X", you must.


  3. You don't say whether you were actually arrested for, let alone convicted of, anything. If you were convicted of an offense, the record of conviction will show its status as either a felony or misdemeanor if you don't remember it. Receipt of a civil demand letter, as other lawyers suggest, is not proof of a conviction, which is the thing that matters.

    You may also want to consult with an immigration attorney to help with your application.

    No attorney-client relationship is established between this lawyer and the originator of the question. This answer is provided for informational purposes only and is provided purely to assist the questioner in determining whether to consult with an attorney to obtain legal advice specific to their matter.


  4. A civil demand letter does not create an independent obligation to pay unless followed by a civil lawsuit which almost never happens. As to potential criminal matters, my colleagues have addressed this in their answers, as well as touching on immigration issues (there being none about the civil demand letter itself.)

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


  5. Assuming there was no criminal prosecution, this is not a criminal record. It may not be any record at all. You should consult an Immigration lawyer about your Dream Act application; you want to get it right.

    See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120347031996578719.html
    There is a law in most states, including Wisconsin, which allows for civil action collection when there is a retail theft. Most people choose to ignore the demand. They get a few more letters, each time asking for more, and then they stop. While the retailer can sue you, I have never heard of anyone actually getting 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 a database which could affect your ability to get a job and could impact your life in other ways. If you are uncomfortable, have your lawyer write a letter. That should be the end of it.
    (copied from Illinois Atty. Judy A Goldstein’s post but it is my opinion as well) http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/60448-il-judy-goldstein-1137006.html

    See also: http://addbalance.com/civildemand.htm
    http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/civil-demand-letters---retail-theft---shoplifting---in-addition-to-or-instead-of-criminal-charges

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    Confidential information should not be disclosed in this Internet forum. I am a 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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