North Carolina- 15 year old daughter shocked me today, she was caught shoplifting $5.98 worth of stuff. They gave us a paper saying we could be sued, and would be contacted by mail about a court date. She has never been in trouble before, and I honestly don't know what to do next.
Criminal Defense Attorney
You need to contact a criminal defense attorney in your area that practices in juvenile court. I assume the documents were notification to the parents when the juvenile case is docketed. The other may be a civil demand letter from the store seeking money damages. Bring them to your attorney and he/she will direct you. Get counsel.
I am trying to give you a general answer to your question. We do not have an attorney-client relationship by this response on the avvo website. I have not been retained to represent you. I am licensed to practice law in Kentucky and in federal court in this state and the Southern District of Indiana. You need to seek legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your area..
Do not panic and do a reasonably appropriate thing, bring the received materials to a good criminal defense attorney in your area for further advice to evaluate the situation with either juvenile court summons or a merchant Demand Letter (you did not indicate which) to proceed further.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
There are two separate matters at play here. One is potential criminal charges. If you receive something in the mail from the courts or the police contact a criminal defense attorney ASAP. S/he would then best be able to advise and guide you. The other matter is a potential civil demand. That is where the store or a lawyer or collection agency on their behalf send you a letter demanding that you pay them money. I generally advise clients to ignore these civil demand letters. You don't owe them anything. In order for you to owe them something they would have to sue you, (in some jurisdictions prove damages which they most likely couldn't do), and win. Even if they could win, the cost of pursuing this is substantially greater than any amount they can possibly recover so they usually don't. They send out these letters because it doesn't cost much and they are hoping that you don't know better and simply send them the money. Nothing will happen to you if you don't pay it and it wont have any affect on a criminal case one way or another. Take a look at an article in the Wall Street Journal at the link provided below.