If I got a letter for payment of a civil demand, should I pay it?

UPDATED: Apr 6, 2012

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If I got a letter for payment of a civil demand, should I pay it?

I am a middle aged woman who got caught walking out of a store with a bag of theirs on my shoulder. I knew I made a mistake and was called to the back and the police were called; I got a class C misdemeanor for the incident. I am currently having it deferred. I have no record, no money, and owe medical bills and credit cards (in collections). A law firm has sent me a letter demanding $400 for the $15 theft (store got the merchandise back). I agreed to pay $100 a month for 4 months. I mailed a check and then called them after noticing the check was not cleared. They claim I now owe them $750 because they “lost” the check and it happens all the time. Now I really think this is really shady. What do I do?

Asked on April 6, 2012 under Criminal Law, Texas


Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

With a Civil Demand, you do not have to pay but if you do not the store can always proceed to sue you for the amount of the civil demand and attorney fees. In most states, the cost of the civil demand is usually no greater than $200.00, so that $400.00 amount appears to be unusually high. 

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