Written by attorney Purav Bhatt

Retail Theft – I’ve received a Civil Judgment

If you’ve been arrested for retail theft or shoplifting, not only will you have to deal with the criminal side of your case but the store which arrested you will also demand a civil or monetary settlement from you. Below is a breakdown of what the retail theft or shoplifting civil judgment is and what you should expect.

In Illinois, retailers who have suffered a retail theft can sue the person arrested and demand monetary compensation. Under the Illinois law, retailers can seek damages in the form of payment for 1) actual damages equal to the full retail value of the item(s) taken, 2) a penalty not less than $100 and not more than $1000 and 3) attorney’s fees and court costs.

Large retailers oftentimes work with debt collecting attorneys or law firms to issue demand letters to those arrested for retail theft or shoplifting. These civil demand letters are issued regardless of whether the stolen item was recovered, regardless of whether an arrest occurred or conviction was entered and prosecution can be conditioned on payment of the civil demand letter.

If you’ve received a civil demand letter, you have a few options.

First, you can pay the entire amount asked for. In my experience with my clients, civil demands usually range from $150-$300. In the grand scheme of things, this is a small amount to pay to avoid damage to your credit or a potential lawsuit against you.

Second, if the amount if too high for you to pay you can negotiate with the sender of the letter to be placed on a payment plan to resolve the amount.

Third, you can ignore the demand letter. If the store did not initially call the police when they detained you for retail theft or shoplifting, it is likely that they will not pursue you in the future. Furthermore, none of my past clients have ever been sued in civil court for collection of the civil demand. The reason being, is that it would cost the retailer and the law firm far more to get you into court than it is worth, especially for a misdemeanor retail theft.

If you or a loved on has been arrested for theft, retail theft, shoplifting, fraud or organized retail crime it is important to protect yourself and your future. Purav Bhatt is acriminal defense attorney practicing in Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will counties. His office is located in Lincolnwood near many Chicago, Skokie and Rolling Meadows courthouses.

Please contact Mr. Bhatt at 773-791-9682 if you would like to discuss your theft, retail theft, shoplifting, fraud or organized retail crime matter.

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