18, caught with $120 worth of undamaged merchandise from Sears. No police were called and the merchandise was returned. When I asked if this is going to go on my permanent record, they assured me it would not. I was very cooperative and calm, let them take my driver's license, and was told if I payed the fine (approximately $250-$500), I could go on with my life guilt free.
My friend, 19, was caught with close to $200 (the exact amount I'm not sure). This was a stupid spur of a moment decision, a first time offense, and obviously we regret this. Although we apologized heavily, and completely understand how lucky we are that we were not sent to jail for the night, we want to know what to expect.
I do not want to go to court, this is my absolute fear.
If no police were called you may have gotten away with no charges being filed. Should you hear from the police you should get an attorney right away and not speak to anyone. These matters can usually be dealt with with alternative or deferred sentences. Call me with any questions.
Do I understand correctly that you and your friend were together and between you you made off with $320 worth of merchandise? If so you both are in misdemeanor territory and I am surprised Sears did not call the police. They still can if they've preserved evidence of what you did.
As far as the fine imposed by Sears goes you have no obligation to pay it. It's a civil matter and has nothing to do with your possible criminal prosecution. That means paying it will not stop you from getting prosecuted. It is not a fine or debt but a demand for damages and will probably far exceed what the 2 of you took.
Real Estate Attorney
The fine Sears referred to will be requested in a civil demand letter from a law firm, probably Palmer Reifler or Neal Tenen. These firms send out thousands of letters each month to shoplifters. They ask for $200-$500. Given the amount involved it is not worth their while to sue. If you do not respond to their request they will move on to the next person on the list.
It will not cause you to go to jail and will not have any negative consequences for not paying. That is the consensus on Avvo.
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