Civil claim against me, help??
Around 5 months ago me and my friend decided to make a stupid decision and steal something from Walmart, I know this was very immature and stupid of us but my friend took a computer game and a lunch able, and I've never been someone who would do such a thing but all I did was take gummy worms. As we were walking out of the store 2 men stopped us and brought us to some room, They asked for our information and we gave it to them, We received no paperwork only a letter stating we may have to pay $200 which they had us sign and gave back to them . The police were not called , I'm 18 years old with a clean record and never been in trouble in school before. Now I'm being threatend with money demands from "Palmer, Reifler & Associates P.A" are these empty threats? the total of what we stole $12
3 attorney answers
To get the penalty they have to be able to prove (by clear and convincing evidence) that they were injured by your theft. The statute (see F.S. 772.11 - http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/772.11 ) authorizes them to seek a minimum of $200 in damages, but to do that they have to file a civil lawsuit, which will cost them hundreds and maybe more. Their letter to you is essentially an offer to settle a potential civil lawsuit for $200.00, a lawsuit which is not yet and may never be filed.
That said, whether or not you pay is a personal, and a non-criminal defense attorney related, question, but I would add that you should be careful as to what you post online (as some might consider this an admission / confession). In that regard you should know that anything that you post on Avvo (or similar sites) or on any social media is by its nature public. It is essentially an admission / confession and can be introduced into evidence as a statement against your interest in a subsequent legal proceeding. Once posted you lose any reasonable expectation of privacy, and as this is an open forum there is no attorney client privilege attached, so be careful (forewarned is forearmed.)
First, second and third: No attorney-client relationship exists by virtue of any Q&A with Michael A. Haber, Esq. on Avvo. Fourth: Anything that you post on Avvo (or on similar sites) or on any social media is by its nature public. It is essentially an admission / confession and can be introduced into evidence as a statement against your interest in a subsequent legal proceeding. Once posted you lose any reasonable expectation of privacy, so, as this is an open forum (with no privilege attached), please be extra careful when considering what to post online (forewarned is forearmed.)
Mr. Haber's answer is spot on. I would just add that, according to a class action lawsuit against Palmer, Reifler (which was not succesful), between 2000 and 2008, Palmer Reifler sent literally millions of such letters and only filed 15 actual lawsuits.
See Kelly v. Palmer, Reifler, & Associates, P.A., 681 F.Supp.2d 1356 (S.D. Fla. 2010).
First of all you lucked out big time because it appears that there is no criminal case against you. Second, they probably will not be willing to spend about $350 in court costs and service of process to file suit and have you served. With that in mind, try to negotiate the amount down.
R. Jason de Groot, Esq.,