What to do if my daughter’s classmate shoplifted and now my daughter has received a civil demand letter?

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What to do if my daughter’s classmate shoplifted and now my daughter has received a civil demand letter?

My daughter ran into a friend from school while at the mall getting a screen protector for her phone. While leaving, my 18 year old daughter ran into a friend from school, whom she hadn’t seen in a year. They agreed to get something to eat and catch up. On the way to the exit, the other girl said she wanted to go into a store and check on the price of something. She asked my daughter to come in with her so that they could still walk to their cars together since it was dark. My daughter agreed. My daughter was looking at things near the register while here friend was elsewhere in the store. Her friend came to her and said she was ready to go, so they headed out. They were stopped by an employee, who said he say the other girl steal something. The girl handed over a $5.00 lanyard. The employee demanded both girls ID. My daughter stated that she didn’t do anything but the employee threatened to call the police, so the friend urged my daughter to give her ID which she did. My daughter did not steal anything, and the employee asked her to empty her pockets, which she did. She had her phone, ID, and debit card. That is it. She now received a civil demand letter from the law firm that represents the store, demanding $429.99. She has 10 days to pay, make arrangements to pay, or they are going to pursue a civil case and notify the credit agencies. She is not guilty of a crime, so how should we proceed?

Asked on April 6, 2017 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

While civil demands are routinely made, they are rarely acted upon. Therefore, you will more than likely never be sued (although there is the remote chance), so you can ignore this letter if you choose. Just be aware that if you don't pay, you'll probably get second, and it will request an even higher amount. Again, you can ignore it. If you do decide to contact this law firm, write them, don't speak with them directly as these type firms can be quite intimidating in their tactics. However, if you do decide to make payment, send no more than about $50.   


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