I'm not sure I understand what the attorney has to do with the shoplifting. Can you please elaborate?
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This is called a civil demand letter and is legal in most states I am aware of.
You do not "have" to pay and I would usually advise not to pay. The criminal charges and the civil are very different. It is highly...extremely unlikely that they would sue over such a small amount, but not impossible. Further, paying may list you in a database that may affect your reputation.
IN most cases, they will simply go away but I have to caution that of course none of us here have crystal ball. That said, make sure you so not confuse these civil collection type letters from any formal correspondence from law enforcement.
You may want to discuss all of this over with a criminal lawyer in your area as well. Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.
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This is called a "civil demand letter" and Mr. Asen is known in this field, as is Palmer & Palmer. The general agreement among Avvo attorneys is that the letter, if not followed by civil litigation, creates no independent obligation to pay.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.