Skip to main content

Neal C. Tenen sent a fine for shoplifting.

Cerritos, CA |

I recently got a mail from Neal C. Tenen stating that I stole 132.47$ worth of merchandise from Knott's Berry Farm. This could be true, yet I believe I stole at maximum around 100
At the time they told me that it would not get into my records.
They took my season pass away, and banned me for one year.
They made my parents sign a release form, and a form stating that I will be arrested if I come back before a year.
Neal C. Tenen has charged 375.00$ for California Penal Code Section 490.5
Should I pay this fine? What will happen if I dont?
On this letter it says
The payment of any demand made upon you does not prevent crinimal prosecution under related crinimal statue provision. Payment of the amount demanded may not be used in any court proceedings by our client as an admission of liability

(This is my first time shoplifting.)

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3

Best Answer
Posted

What you have is a civil demand letter. If you strip away the fancy letterhead, law firm name, and legal language, what they are essentially asking you to do is to voluntarily pay a bunch of money they believe you owe them as a result of your shoplifting. There is a big industry of lawyers who specialize in sending these letters to people who have been caught shoplifting. The lawyers hope that enough of these people are scared into paying the amount asked that the lawyers make money.

I always advise my clients (this advice seems to be what many Avvo lawyers advise as well) to ignore the letter. The letter is voluntarily asking you to pay. Only a court of law can order you to pay. It is highly unlikely that you would be taken to court over such a small amount (~$100) of shoplifted merchandise. The court costs and legal fees alone would be tremendous. The law firm would also bear the burden of proof as to why they are entitled to the $375 they are seeking since you only took $100ish worth of stuff. In other words, the court will make the law firm prove where the extra $275 comes from.

Below is a link from the Wall Street Journal (February 2008 or so) detailing this industry of sending civil demand letters. Neal Tenen is quoted as being a leader or founder of the industry.

Hope that helps.

Andy

The answer provided above is based upon California and/or New York law and is based solely upon the limited information provided by the poster. No attorney-client relationship is created. A future in-person consultation may reveal additional facts that may change the answer provided.

Asker

Posted

Woah, thanks for your amazing answer Andy! What I'm wondering is, If I do not pay the fine, what are the worst things that can happen, and what things are most likely to happen? I'm actually only 13, but as you can tell, things aren't financially well in our family. I need to know all the risks, before not paying for the fine. It would be a tremendous impact on my family, if we are charged for more, or if we need to hire a lawyer! Thanks Andy!

Andy I Chen

Andy I Chen

Posted

Hi, glad I could help. I've not handled any of these civil demand letter cases myself (I usually just have people ask the 'what do I do?' question you did.) Given how little you took and how expensive it would be for the law firm to sue you, I think the letter is to be all the law firm does. The law firm should know that it would be a tremendous money loser for them to pursue you further for this matter. As of now, my thought is that the firm spent 45 cents or so to mail you a standard letter in the hope that you would send them $375. If the hope turns out to be in vain, all they've lost is 45 cents and they will move on to the next victim.

Asker

Posted

Oh, I see. 1) Is it possible that they duplicate the tremendous amount of money due to them(375$) if I decide not to pay? 2) What happens if I get sued? 3) What about the crinimal prosecution? 4) Wouldn't Knott's pursue me, because I took 100$ worth of their merchandise? Andy, you're a great help!

Andy I Chen

Andy I Chen

Posted

1) It is possible but very remote. It would still be them asking you to voluntarily pay them. You don't have to pay a thing until a court orders you to pay. In court, the judge will want the law firm to prove why you actually owe them the money they claim. I don't think the law firm will be able to do this. 2) I don't think you'll be sued because it would be a tremendous money loser for the firm. If you do get sued, you'd have to evaluate what you're being sued for. You may need to consult or hire a lawyer. 3) Were the police called? You didn't mention that earlier. Even if the police did come, I don't think the District Attorney in Los Angeles really wants to be known as someone who prosecutes minors for petty shoplifting. The odds of a criminal prosecution are very small. 4) I assume you gave the merchandise back to Knotts. Is that right? If so, then they aren't really damaged in anyway that the law would allow them to seek redress. The law firm letter you got constitutes the extent, I think, of Knotts' efforts against you. If you like, you can have your mom or dad give me a call: 650-735-2436.

Asker

Posted

I'm not sure if police were called, but shortly 4 people in cop uniforms assisted us to the Knott's discipline room. I currently am in possession of two of Knott's merchandise, because two were left at home, totaling to about 35$. The rest were in perfect condition and returned, excluding the candy me and my friends took. I would love for my parents to give you a call, but they lack of the ability to speak English! Sorry! "The payment of demand made upon you does not prevent criminal prosecution under a related criminal statute provision. Payment of the amount demanded may not be used in any court proceeding by our client as an admission of liability. You might want to seek the advice of counsel regarding this." Can you please explain what this means?

Asker

Posted

This same thing happened to me. I didn't pay the fine and they ended up filing charges against me. Wasn't worth it in the end.

Asker

Posted

Wow. Thank you very much. I wish I would have seen this earlier. Makes complete sense, but I was scared at the time.

Posted

Most attorneys say on this site not to pay these civil demands.

Asker

Posted

What happens If I don't? Would I be sued? If I am sued, what difference does it make to the payment as not being sued? Is it not the same cost, excluding the cost of the lawyer? Could I simply ignore, and pay when I get a letter stating that they are suing? Thanks!

Posted

Ignore it

Asker

Posted

When I got taken to an empty room in Knott's Berry Farm, I was told if I pay this, this would stay between me and Knott's, and not go on my record. On the Letter it says, "The payment of demand made upon you does not prevent criminal prosecution under a related criminal statute provision. Payment of the amount demanded may not be used in any court proceeding by our client as an admission of liability. You might want to seek the advice of counsel regarding this." Can you please explain what this means? I do not want anything on my record. What happens if they sue me? Nobody has yet to answer this question.

Andrew Stephen Roberts

Andrew Stephen Roberts

Posted

They did not get police involved . No police equates to no charges. They will not call them now or file a complaint .

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer