What happens if I don't pay a civil demand?

Asked over 1 year ago - San Diego, CA

I received a civil demand for shoplifting from Neal Tenen Law Corp. for $400. LP threatened to call the police if I didn't give my SSN. They took my SSN, ID, and had me sign an agreement that I would pay fines, so I signed to get out of there. No police were involved. What happens if I ignore the fine? What's the likelihood that they will sue? I would prefer to keep it off the record as much as possible, should I pay and get it over with?

Additional information

Amount stolen was less than $20, 18 yrs old, there was no damages, the store took back the merchandise.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Alan Graham Keating

    Contributor Level 10

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It is very difficult to predict with certainty what will happen if you fail to pay a civil demand letter in a shoplifting case. It is possible that the store could report the matter to the police and that charges will be filed against you.

    Depending on the amount in question the D.A. has up to one year to file misdemeanor charges against you, longer in the case of felony charges.

    The fact that the store has actually taken the time to engage a firm to send you a civil demand letter suggest that they mean business. The store could choose to sue you in civil court - that wouldn't be on your criminal record but it would likely result in a civil judgment against you.

    Why take the chance? You avoided being arrested and charged - this an opportunity to put the matter behind you once and for all with no record existing, either criminal or civil.

    This answer is for general informational purposes only and shall not constitute legal advice. I have answered a... more
  2. Nicholas Maurice Rosenberg

    Contributor Level 14

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Short answer is not much will happen. The civil demand is separate from the criminal case and the amount in question is $400. It is likely more expensive to attempt to sue you in small claims court. I cannot guarantee that charges will not be filed, but that is my answer regarding the civil demand.

  3. Michael Kevin Cernyar

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . There are not enough facts here to provide a meaningful answer since it appears you signed some type of agreement. I suggest contacting an attorney to review the agreement, the facts of the case and to develop a strategy. Many reputable attorneys offer a free consultation. I suggest meeting with at least one soon while the facts are still fresh in your mind. Not only for that reason, but by contacting an attorney early you have an opportunity to confer with the prosecution beforehand with the possibility of having the charges rejected altogether before the court date.

    The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice... more
  4. David Philip Shapiro

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Hold onto it in the unlikely evenet criminal charges are filed, as payment of the civil demand can sometimes be used as a negotiating tool in criminal court, but don't be in any rush to give in to the empty civil demands.

    If only you paid for the item you shoplifted....

    Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555

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