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Received 2nd civil demand letter do i have to pay?

Healdsburg, CA |

I was charged with petty theft after being caught stealing $80.00 worth of merchandise from JCPennys in california. I am 19 and female. They took down some information, took my picture then let me go. I got a civil demand letter in the mail and i paid half of it. Now that i've learned you don't really have to pay i have been ignoring them( The Law Offices of Michael Ira Asen who may i add is in N.Y) I have now recieved a 2nd letter in the mail saying i have 10 days to respond or "JCPenny may take legal action." SO my question is i paid half, should i ignore them or pay the rest which is another $125? Since i completed this CAD program and community service will not paying affect me and my credit?

the CAD program was to get the incident of my record i had to pay a lot of money for it and it was a 4 hour class. I don't want to pay 125$ to some law offices that are across the country i already paid them 125$ the first time and i feel as though it was a waste. But i am afraid that they may peruse legal action against me.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

Regardless of the Civil Demand, if you are charged with petty theft, an excellent way to resolve the matter is by way of Civil Compromise. In a Civil Compromise, you pay "the victim," any amount of money, and if they sign off you can take that to the court and the court, in its Discretion, will dismiss the criminal case.

Tim Liebaert, Esq.


These "civil demand letters" are, frankly, nothing more than legal blackmail. They say that if you pay them their "fine" (which isn't a fine - it's just a number invented by the collection agent), they won't turn you over to the authorities. Frankly, you committed a crime, and contacting the authorities is exactly what JCP should have done. But, they don't want to deal with the hassle of a criminal case, so they take your picture and send you a "fine" letter. They cannot force you to pay this "fine," but if you don't, they may turn it over to the cops. You have to decide which result is worse for you.

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Whether its one letter or two or three 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, (in some jurisdictions prove damages which they most likely couldn't do), and win. Even if they could win, the cost of pursuing this is substantially greater than any amount they can possibly recover so they usually don't. They send out these letters because it doesn't cost much and they are hoping that you don't know better and simply send them the money. Nothing will happen to you if you don't pay it. Take a look at an article in the Wall Street Journal at the link provided below. 


Ignore the letters.