If my minor child got caught shoplifting but nothing was taken or damaged yet I received a letter from an attorney saying that I owe $350 for civil claim, is this legitimate?

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If my minor child got caught shoplifting but nothing was taken or damaged yet I received a letter from an attorney saying that I owe $350 for civil claim, is this legitimate?

It was her first time, so she got a fine and community service.

Asked on January 28, 2016 under Criminal Law, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

These communications, known as "civil demand letters". While they are routinelt made they are rarely acted upon. Therefore, you will more than likely never be sued (although there is the remote chance). Accordingly, you can choose to  ignore this letter if you want. Just be aware that if you don't pay, you'll probably get second, requesting an even higher amount. Again, you can choose to ignore it. If you do decide to contact this attorney, write them, don't speak with them directly as they can be quite intimidating in their tactics to collect.  Also, if you have to appear in court, should you pay the civil demand, let the court know as it may effect what restitution, if any, is imposed. 


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