Do I need to pay a civil demand payment?

I was caught shoplifting at Macy’s and was issued a civil demand payment. I read online from different lawyers not to pay it. What are my rights?

Asked on July 8, 2017 under Criminal Law, Hawaii

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A "civil demand" is commonly used in incidents and sometimes in place of filing petit theft charges. Many times a shoplifter is given a choice of paying the demand and never setting foot in that store again, etc. or else the store will file criminal charges. However, you need not pay it. The fact is that these demands are rarely acted upon, so your chances of being sued are unlikley. Therefore, if you want, you can ignore this letter. However, you will more than likley get a second and for possibly an even higher amount). Again, you can ignore it if you choose. Just know that these people are notorious for their threatening and intimidating tactics; so hang tough. That all having been said, if you are summoned to appear in court, you should wait on making any payment should you do decide to pay. The court will issue a fine, community service, probation, and restitution to the store (which may be less than the civil demand amount). At such point as restitution is ordered, the store should drop its civil demand. If, however, you do pay before going to court, then let the judge know so they will not order any restitution. At this point, you may want to consult directly with a local attorney.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A "civil demand" is commonly used in incidents and sometimes in place of filing petit theft charges. Many times a shoplifter is given a choice of paying the demand and never setting foot in that store again, etc. or else the store will file criminal charges. However, you need not pay it. The fact is that these demands are rarely acted upon, so your chances of being sued are unlikley. Therefore, if you want, you can ignore this letter. However, you will more than likley get a second and for possibly an even higher amount). Again, you can ignore it if you choose. Just know that these people are notorious for their threatening and intimidating tactics; so hang tough. That all having been said, if you are summoned to appear in court, you should wait on making any payment should you do decide to pay. The court will issue a fine, community service, probation, and restitution to the store (which may be less than the civil demand amount). At such point as restitution is ordered, the store should drop its civil demand. If, however, you do pay before going to court, then let the judge know so they will not order any restitution. At this point, you may want to consult directly with a local attorney.


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