What should I do regarding an alleged shoplifting charge and a letter from an attorney saying that I owe $500?

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What should I do regarding an alleged shoplifting charge and a letter from an attorney saying that I owe $500?

I was in a store about a month ago with my 2 sons. When and I finished with shopping I noticed that I didn’t had my credit card with me, so I walked to the door with the shopping cart with my 2 sons on it. Right before the door I stopped with the cart and was going to go to my car. However, a security guy came up to me with a rude tone telling me to stay still. We argued and he took me to the office; the police showed up but they said that it was nothing illegal. I then left the office but not before the security guy took my information from my DL and took a picture of me. Then, a couple days ago, I found that a lawyer’s office sent me a letter saying that I have to pay $500 in 7 days.

Asked on July 9, 2015 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

First of all, you were lucky that no charges were filed, so you need not concern yourself with that. As for this letter it is common�practice to send one�after a shoplifting incident; they are known as "civil demand letters".

These civil demands are routinely made but rarely, if ever, acted upon.�In other words your chances of being sued are virtually zero.�So you can ignore this letter if you want.�Be aware, if you don't pay after this first letter you will get second, and it will request an even higher amount.�Again, you can choose to ignore it.�With a civil demand, they can sue you civilly for the money. However, most stores do not follow through with this is because of the cost and time it takes to file a civil suit just to recover a nominal sum (in your case $500).�
�
Quite frankly, without charges having been�filed, it's doubtful that a court would even grant them a judgement (but it is possible). So you will have to decide whether or not to pay.

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