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If Cops were called, but didn't show up and you don't pay the civil demand for a shoplifting case, can they take u to court?

San Diego, CA |

My friend was caught stealing in Walmart In San Diego, California and the police were called but didn't arrive, so Walmart let her go, and said that she would receive a letter for civil damages in the mail. If she doesn't pay the civil damages which is i think 575, will she be prosecuted, ever though she didn't get arrested, since the police were called? or Can They Not do anything?

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Attorney answers 6


Payment of the Civil Damages is absolutely NOT a guarantee that criminal charges will not be filed by WalMart. They will still do a civil demand which your friend is not obligated to pay and wlll in no way effect the case. The case may still be submitted for misdemeanor prosecution and your friend receive a notify letter advising them of a court date for the theft. Hope that this helps, your friend should contact a local, criminal defense attorney to assist in this. Paul Neuharth, 619-231-0401


If your friend was detained for shoplifting by security but was not arrested nor cited, there are no criminal charges pending. The letter she received from an attorney on behalf of the business is civil only and has nothing to do with the decision to prosecute criminally. I advise my clients not to pay the civil demand letter, unless they get sued and served with civil process in small claims court, then we'll address the claim in the civil lawsuit.

The police can still bring a criminal complaint if they elect to do so until the running of the statute of limitations on prosecuting a misdemeanor/felony has expired in your state.

I don't practice in CA, so I'd consult with a local criminal defense attorney in your area for advice and direction.

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..


Your friend is not obligated to pay a civil demand letter. Walmart can sue her in civil court, and if that happens she should contact an attorney. However, the civil demand letter has nothing to do with whether or not your friend will be criminally prosecuted. If she receives a citation in the mail, she should consult with a local criminal defense attorney.

When responding to questions posted on Avvo, I provide a general purpose response based on California law as I am licensed in California. In reviewing my response, you are specifically advised that your use of, or reliance upon any response I provide is not advisable. I do not have all relevant background details or facts related to your issue / matter, thus I am not in a position to give you legal advice. Further, your review, use of, or reliance upon my response does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us nor does it qualify as a legal consultation for any purpose.


As a rule, I advise clients to ignore these civil demand letters. Unless you signed some agreement to pay this store, you owe them nothing. In order for you to owe them something they would have to sue you and win. However, It would cost them much more to sue you than they can ever hope to recover so they usually don’t pursue it.

With that in mind, I would advise that they can still take legal action against you by filing suit in small claims court. If you ignore these actions, a default judgment will be entered against you. So, although you can ignore the civil demand letter, do not ignore anything that comes from a court.

Legal disclaimer: The answer provided is general in nature and because not all facts are known, it should not be construed as legal advice. The answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.


"Your friend" should hold onto, but not pay the civil demand unless they cannot live without doing so. In the event criminal charges are filed, "your friend" should receive a "notify letter" in the mail stating the date/time for their arraignment. Sometimes, payment of civil demands carry weight with prosecutors but that will depend where in San Diego the case is heard.

In the event criminal charges are filed, consult with and hire the best locally experienced criminal defense attorney you can afford.

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


Paying the civil damages penalty is something I would suggest your friend does not do until they speak with a criminal defense attorney. As for the filing of criminal charges that's an entirely independent action and has nothing to do with payment of the civil penalty.