What to do about a letter regarding a civil claim for shoplifting?

My 13 year old daughter was arrested for shoplifting. The case has been closed by the police and we have now been getting letters from the store’s law firm concerning a civil claim against her. They have sent 3 letters so far and the balance keeps going up. What do I need to do?

Asked on October 9, 2014 under Criminal Law, Illinois


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A letter of this type is called a "civil demand". While these demands are routinely made, they are rarely acted upon. This means that more than likely you will never be sued (although there is the remote chance). Consequently you can ignore these letters if you want. Just be aware, you may continue to get more and they may request an even higher amount. Again, you can choose to ignore them. If you do decide to contact these people for some reason, then write them, do not speak with them directly as they are notorious for their using intimidating tactics. At that point, you can offer them a small fraction of what they are asking for as a settlement which they may well accept (or you can still choose to ignore their demands). 

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