Should I paya civil demand letter?

I was caught shoplifting a $6 shirt. The police were not called. I have read that no legal action will result in ignoring the letter. Is this true?

Asked on September 16, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A civil demand letter is a way for the store to scare you even more than you were when they caught you shoplifting and read you the riot act.  If in fact the police were called and you were arrested for petty theft - the legal charge for shop lifting - after the matter was worked out before the judge (be it tried or pled to a lesser offense), the court would order you pay restitution to the store.  And the restitution would not have been any more than the value of the shirt.  So I would tell you that you should not pay any more than $6 and that is they are asking for more you should not respond.  If anything does in fact come of it - and it should really not - seek legal help. It is a lesson learned I hope.


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