Do I need to pay a civil demand letter regarding a shoplifting incident with my 11 year old?

My 11 year old daughter drank a sode while we were shopping and tried to walkout without paying for it. When I picked her up I was told there would be no charges. She just wouldn’t b allowed to shop there alone again. I recieved a letter for “civil damages for loss caused by theft” from a law firm for $250. Do I need to pay this? I thought all charges were dropped at the time of the event?

Asked on July 10, 2012 under Criminal Law, Colorado


Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I always advise my clients not to pay the Civil Demand for shoplifting simply because most stores and retail chains do not enforce them in Civil Court. A Civil Demand is separate from any criminal charges that may be filed. With a Civil Demand, if you do not pay the $250.00, they can sue you civilly for the $250.00. The reason why most stores do not follow through with this is because of the attorney cost and time it takes to file a civil suit against you just to recover $250.00. If a store does file a suit, and the judge rules in their favor, you could end up being responsible for the $250.00 and ordered to pay the store's attorney fees. So this is a judgment call you will have to make, but I say do not pay unless they actually file suit against you, not just a simple demand letter from a law firm.

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