I recently got a mail from Neal C. Tenen stating that I stole 132.47$ worth of merchandise from Knott's Berry Farm. This could be true, yet I believe I stole at maximum around 100
At the time they told me that it would not get into my records.
They took my season pass away, and banned me for one year.
They made my parents sign a release form, and a form stating that I will be arrested if I come back before a year.
Neal C. Tenen has charged 375.00$ for California Penal Code Section 490.5
Should I pay this fine? What will happen if I dont?
On this letter it says
The payment of any demand made upon you does not prevent crinimal prosecution under related crinimal statue provision. Payment of the amount demanded may not be used in any court proceedings by our client as an admission of liability
(This is my first time shoplifting.)
Family Law Attorney
What you have is a civil demand letter. If you strip away the fancy letterhead, law firm name, and legal language, what they are essentially asking you to do is to voluntarily pay a bunch of money they believe you owe them as a result of your shoplifting. There is a big industry of lawyers who specialize in sending these letters to people who have been caught shoplifting. The lawyers hope that enough of these people are scared into paying the amount asked that the lawyers make money.
I always advise my clients (this advice seems to be what many Avvo lawyers advise as well) to ignore the letter. The letter is voluntarily asking you to pay. Only a court of law can order you to pay. It is highly unlikely that you would be taken to court over such a small amount (~$100) of shoplifted merchandise. The court costs and legal fees alone would be tremendous. The law firm would also bear the burden of proof as to why they are entitled to the $375 they are seeking since you only took $100ish worth of stuff. In other words, the court will make the law firm prove where the extra $275 comes from.
Below is a link from the Wall Street Journal (February 2008 or so) detailing this industry of sending civil demand letters. Neal Tenen is quoted as being a leader or founder of the industry.
Hope that helps.
The answer provided above is based upon California and/or New York law and is based solely upon the limited information provided by the poster. No attorney-client relationship is created. A future in-person consultation may reveal additional facts that may change the answer provided.
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