8 months ago, I was caught shoplifting $20 worth of food.. It was wrong and selfish of me, but I was homeless at the time and needed to eat. The police were not called, but I received a letter from Palmer, Reifler and Associates demanding $300 in restitution. I was shocked at how much it was!
I called the law firm, explained I had no job and the only way I could pay them was in small increments of $10 every two to three weeks while I donated blood. This worked fine, until I became more ill and could not donate for a time. The company did not understand, sending me a letter demanding full payment within 10 days or face possible prosecution.
My question is, I have heard this firm is nothing more than a glorified shakedown thug group. Is the amount of $$$ they ask for legal? Advice pleaseAddendum: I paid the full amount of $20 to the store when I was caught as well. Is it constitutional for them to charge me so much restitution? I have heard from many people that Palmer Inc. is a scam but want to know what an actual attorney thinks of the matter. Mr. Leydiker, I was forced to sign a letter of apology or else have the police called on the matter. Goes to show how one act of stupidity can wreck the rest of your life huh?
This does indeed sound like a shakedown. (Constitutionality has nothing to do with it; the constitution limits the powers of the government, mostly. Something could be unjust, unfair, or even illegal, and not be unconstitutional.)
Without seeing this letter, and reviewing the court file, it's impossible to say for certain what risks you take from not paying. I would recommend you consult with a criminal defense lawyer. You can call the Oregon State Bar's lawyer referral service at 503-684-3763 for a referral. Many lawyers will offer an initial consultation for free - that may be all you need.
Nothing in this answer is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding.
You can find many of the same answer to this question on this forum. Civil demands have no legal force, so you don't need to pay. The stores use these firms, who in turn get a percentage from those they scare enough to pay. If you didn't sign anything, you don't owe anything. I wouldn't fall for the threat of prosecution or civil action.
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I generally advise clients to ignore these civil demand letters. You don’t owe them anything. In order for you to owe them something they would have to sue you and win. Whether they can win or not doesn’t really make much a difference. It would cost them substantially more to sue you than they can ever hope to recover so they usually don’t pursue it. They send out these letters because it’s cheap to do so and they are hoping that you don’t know better and simply send them the money. Nothing will happen to you if you ignore the letter.
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