If a friend was caught for shoplifting about $25 of merchandise but wasn’t arrested and they fail to pay a $275 demand sent by the store’s attorney, can they still be arrested?

She brought in to the back and was told if she was cooperative they would not have her arrested. They did take her drivers license and social security number, but signed nothing stating she agrees to pay anything, and advised her that she was going to have to pay a fine and the bill would come in the mail. She was advised that if she didn’t pay the fine she would be arrested. Basically she received a bill in the mail from walmart’s attorney advising that she need to pay $275. This sounds like extortion to me. I don’t believe that this is a legal remedy? Am I wrong?

Asked on July 19, 2015 under Criminal Law, New York


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The store's attorney sending the letter and demanding considerably more than the value of the items taken is standard operating procedure.

If your friend does not pay the fine, she will be arrested and charged with larceny, and the case will then go to court.  If your friend is convicted, that conviction will be on her record, and it will be very difficult for her to find a job in the future.

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