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.