Must I pay a civil demand notice?.

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Must I pay a civil demand notice?.

I am 19 and I was recently caught shoplifting, around $15 value. I was not charged with shoplifting, however. All they did was file a trespass for the store. However, it is two weeks later now and I was sent a letter saying I needed to pay a civil fine of $200 to them, which I am completely incapable of paying. But more importantly, I’d like to know if this is something I have to pay at all? It does say that they may chose to take me to court if I don’t pay within 20 days.

Asked on May 19, 2015 under Criminal Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A Civil Demand notice is a way for the store to extort money from you.  Why trespass?  Were you there without the owner's consent?  Probably not if it was a retail store.  So I think it is doubtful they can make a case unless your state has some strange interpretation of the law. They can either file charges for shoplifting (petty larceny) and then you will likely have to pay them back or do community service or even a deferred adjudication program that will wipe out the shoplifting charge entirely.  See even what they say  -  may choose to take you to court - is tell tale that this may be too much for them to deal with.  If this is your first offense then it is unlikely that you will be convicted but will get a deferred adjudication.  Wait and see. 

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is advisable to pay the fine because if you don't pay, criminal charges could be brought against you for trespass and larceny (theft).  A conviction and criminal record will have adverse consequences in the future when you are applying for jobs.


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