What to do if I stole money from a merchant out of financial problems and mental pressure?

UPDATED: Apr 2, 2013

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What to do if I stole money from a merchant out of financial problems and mental pressure?

They are instigating a fine and are making me pay $950 in damages With lawyer’s fees, it will total $1,250. Right now I do not have the money to pay for this and need to find another job in order to do so. How do I go about approaching this matter?

Asked on April 2, 2013 under Criminal Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Bear in mind that financial problems and mental pressure are NOT defenses to a charge of theft (or to a lawsuit for theft): you are liable for the value of what you stole and (usually) their legal costs to recover it for you, and could also potentially face criminal charges. The mental pressure and financial problems are simply irrelevant. You may be best off trying to work out a payment plan you can meet, since would have to repay if sued anyway, and working out a payment plan will show good faith and contrition on your part and also may let you pay the amount off over time.

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