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Attorney answers 4


A civil theft notice is different from a criminal arrest. Civil theft notices arise under Chapter 772 of the Florida statutes, which provide a civil remedy for theft and exploitation. A civil theft notice is not a criminal arrest and does not lead to a criminal record. However, this does not meant that the person who sent you the notice may seek to have charges filed against you by the State Attorney. If that happens, a criminal case would be opened.


Retail establishments who believe they are a victim of a theft have a civil remedy under Florida laws. They usually send a letter demanding a payment and informing you about what may happen if you fail to pay. This civil payment is in addition to any fines or restitution you may be required to pay if convicted in a criminal court. You should contact your attorney or an attorney.


The civil theft notice is not a criminal charge, but it is a notice that the "victim" must send the person thought to have stolen some property, at least 30 days before the victim files suit. If they sue the person accused and win in court, then the person accused will have to 1) return the property, 2) pay penalties for damages or loss of use, AND 3) pay treble damages (which means triple the value of the item).

If it is true that the person accused has taken or stolen the item, it's much easier to return the item before the deadline given on the civil theft notice. If you do so, make sure you get them to give you a signed, written release from further liability or lawsuits. Good luck.


Civil theft is a non criminal statute that essentially calls for triple damages to compensate the store who suffered the theft. BUT, this is often a precursor to a criminal charge. Often times the store will automatically notify the State Attorney's Office to seek criminal charges as well.

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