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What happens if I do not pay the civil demand of my teen being caught for shoplifting? I am unemployed and cannot pay

Lincoln, MA |

Can I refuse to pay on the grounds of a medical reason, which my daughter is suffering from.

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Attorney answers 4


Nothing will happen if you don't pay. It's a civil demand or request for payment. It is not a bill and will not go on your credit report. Don't answer or offer excuses for non-payment. You may get several other letters but put them also in File 13.



Sorry what is file 13?

John M. Kaman

John M. Kaman


The trash can.


Ignore the letter.


A civil demand letter is nothing more than the store's attempt to get your daughter to give them some money and the hope is that she will be intimidated into doing so. In order for them to force you to pay, they would have to take you to court, prove damages, etc. Hiring an attorney to do this for them is likely going to cost them far more than the amount they would recover, so the odds of them actually suing you for it is low (but it's not impossible). I've linked below to an excellent guide on civil demand letters. As the guide notes, many attorneys on Avvo will tell you to ignore these civil demand letters, and I am one of them.

Douglas Lloyd is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Answers provided on Avvo are intended for informational purposes only; they are not intended as legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship. The material is presented with the understanding and agreement that I am not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services by posting it.


Massachusetts has a statute (law) that allows retail stores to file a civil action for up to $500.00 against persons whom are caught shoplifting. The law was designed to allow stores to collect money to support loss prevention programs. These demand letters are routinely sent out and you need not do anything. The worst that can happen is that the store will file a small claim action against you for up to $500.00; however this is highly unlikely.

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