Do I have to pay civil demand?

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Do I have to pay civil demand?

My 14 year-old daughter was caught shoplifting $34 worth of merchandise. She was banned from the store for 1 year. They called the state police who arrived and issued her a ticket to appear for juvenile probation. She had that intake and they are sending it through to family court. The other day I got a civil demand letter from an “attorney’s office” that you can call until 11:00 pm at night? It states that I have to pay $170. Do I really have to pay this? What happens if I ignore it? The letter stated “this is not an attempt to collect a debt”, what does that mean for me?

Asked on December 4, 2010 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Civil demands in these type cases are routinely made, however they are rarely acted upon.  In other words, your chance of being sued is virtually zero.  Consequently you can ignore this letter if you choose.  However, you should be aware that if you don't pay this first demand you will get second, and for possibly an even higher amount.  Again, you can ignore it if you want.  However if, at that point, you decide to make payment, pay no more than $50 or so.  Put this in a letter to them - do not speak with them directly.  These people are known for their threatening and intimidating tactics. 

Additionally, if you do choose to pay prior to your daughter's juvenile court appearance, keep proof of the payment.  In such cases the court may order restitution (if damages occurred), so if you pay the amount requested in the civil demand letter, you can prove that no additional restitution is owed.


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