Do I still have to pay a store $200 if they have all property from me and nothing was damaged?

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Do I still have to pay a store $200 if they have all property from me and nothing was damaged?

I received a letter from a law office, a “formal demand” to pay $200 to their store. I committed retail fraud in the 3rd degree. The letter however says, “This is a formal demand for return of the property involved, if applicable, and the payment of the amounts indicated above, equaling the amount of $200. If you return any unrecovered property and pay the amounts indicated about to us within 30 days after the date of this notice was mailed the stay will not take any further civil actions against you.” I’ve never been in trouble before, but this store has all property from me the day I took it, and nothing was damaged.(about in a checked box it says, pay us civil damages) So, I would like to know if I need to actually pay this, or what would happen?

Asked on July 22, 2011 Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that these "civil demand letters" are routinely made but rarely, if ever, acted upon. In other words you more than likely will never be sued (although there is always the chance no matter how remote). Consequently you can ignore this letter if you want. Just be aware, that if you don't pay after this first letter you will get second, requesting an even higher amount.  Again, you can choose to ignore it. If, however, you do decide to make payment, pay no more than a token $50 (there was no damage done to the property and it was capable of being re-sold).  Put this in a letter to them. Don't speak with them directly as these people or notorious for their use of intimidating tactics.  
  
Note:  If you do choose to pay prior to your court appearance, know that such a payment will not negatively affect your case (quite possibly the opposite). You should retain proof that the payment was made so that they can prove to the prosecutor that no additional restitution or the like is owed.     


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