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How to negotiate a civil demand from shoplifting?

San Diego, CA |

Today I went to court charged with 484 (a)/488 and was offered a plea agreement because I had no priors. Basically i had to plea guilty, do community service, pay civil demand, and report back in 6 months and my plea will be withdrawn and case will be dismissed. The civil demand is 500$ from h&m and my shoplifted items were about 45$. The security guard was on his normal shift and the items were returned undamaged. Is there any way I can negotiate with them to lower the fine? (The fine is out of my budget because I am a college student from a low income family, and my letter says it is due in 19 days from today) If so, how much should I pay for the civil demand?

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

Only since proof of payment of the civil demand appears to be part of your negotiated plea, you can request a lower lump sum payment or to make payments. Do not let the civil demand company know it's part of your plea, as doing so would kill any leverage you might have in getting a settlement for a lower total payment. Once they are satisfied with the amount paid, get a letter from the company verifying such so you can bring it to court on the 6 month date.

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


Call the company in charge of collecting the civil demand and see if they will lower the amount. If not they will probably allow you to make small payments.

Bradley Corbett | Attorney at Law

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Your best bet to deal with these issues are when you enter a plea. What did the court state regarding restitution?

If the court was silent about it and no claim is made by the Shop owner, and if you made a "no contest plea" you can challenge the claim of civil dispute. If it is worth the time and cost depends on you.



I plead guilty in order to have case dismissed in 6 months, my plea agreement said i had to pay civil demand and restitution.

Pius Joseph

Pius Joseph


It appears that you have a deferred entry type of program. If you agreed with the restitution you have to pay.


A negotiated plea is like a contract. It sounds like in this case you accepted that you would have to pay a certain amount of money in exchange for being offered what is generally refferred to as DEJ or Defferred Entry of Judgment. The good news is that if you complete your end of the bargain that you will never actually be "convicted" of a crime. The bad news is that you now actually have to do what you said you would. If you come back to court in six months and you haven't paid the civil demand in full the judge may not dismiss your case and may decide to go ahead an enter a conviction against you. As a college kid, you don't want a criminal record, even for something as trivial as shoplifting. Do NOT think that just because the company may be willing to extend your repayment by more than six months that the judge will necessarily do the same. Come up with the money, pay the people off, and get on with your life.

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