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Should I ignore a Civil Demand i received from shoplifting even if the cops were called.

Burlington, MA |

I shoplifted $384 worth of merchandise from Nordstroms. The LP brought me in an I admitted to taking the stuff. They called the police but he was only there for about 2 minutes and just took down my info. What should I be expecting, I heard the LP mention something about a summon to the cop but he said he could not do one only the store could. I just don't know if I am going to be going to court and whether that will affect my decision to pay or not. *I am 17 but the LP wrote me down at 16 on the sheet.

Nordstroms is rep'd by Lane Powell, and unfortunately not Palmer, Reifler & Associates. I don't know if that makes too much of a difference

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Attorney answers 6

Best Answer

Ignore the civil complaint. Expect a summons for court and criminal charges for shoplifting. The civil suit is separate and apart from the criminal action and paying it makes it no less likely that the store will pursue criminal charges. Typically the civil complaint will "imply" that if you pay it, you will somehow avoid being criminally prosecuted. In reality, when the store gives the report to the police, they have already initiated the criminal action and when you go to court and tell the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) that you received and paid a civil penalty, they will give it no weight whatsoever. You are far better served not paying the civil demand and then offering it, through your lawyer, to the court as restitution in exchange for a dismissal of the charges. So, the short answer is, 1) Ignore the civil demand, and 2) Hire a good criminal lawyer. My web site and contact information are below.


It will be up to Nordstrom as to whether it will prosecute the claim. They will use the police report to back up its claim and convince the prosecutor to file the charges.

Only time will tell.

Kara O'Donnell
O'Donnell Law Offices
Quincy, MA


To answer your question, you should ignore the civil demand letter. Regardless of what lawyer or law firm it came from it is a "Civil" demand and totally unrelated to any criminal prosecution. Whether charges are filed against you depends on the DA, not the store and not the store's attorney. Conversely it is also true that if you pay the civil demand it will have no affect on possible criminal charges.


Sometimes stores do not file criminal complaints against shoplifters. Sometimes they serve you with a civil fine instead of filling criminal charges.
If you are summonsed to court, you will receive a letter in the mail telling you when to appear. If you are summonsed to court you should consider hiring a lawyer to protect your record.

Also, for the record, you should not post confessions online.



There are separate issues presented. The civil demand is likely pursuant to MGL c. 231 sec. 85R1/2. The owner of a store can seek recovery of actual damages, plus $50.00 to $500.00, from one who committed, or attempted to commit, a larceny. The second issue is whether the an application for a criminal complaint will be made. Since the police implied they may not issue a summons, they may be leaving it to the store apply for a criminal complaint.

If you pay, they can still apply for a criminal complaint. Consider speaking to an attorney about the specifics of you case, as this is not the place to post specifics, or confessions, for further guidance.


I would condition the civil payment on an agreement that no criminal prosecution would ensue.

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