What does a statutory civil damages claim mean after being charged with petite theft?

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What does a statutory civil damages claim mean after being charged with petite theft?

I recently was charged with petite theft from a store and have to appear in court in a few weeks. I got a letter in the mail from a law firm saying that the store may consider moving forward with a statutory civil damages claim against me. They are asking that I pay a settlement amount of $200. If I pay that within 20 days of the date of the letter I will get a written realease of the claim. What does that mean and is it seperate from what I am already going to court for?

Asked on March 4, 2012 under Criminal Law, Florida

Answers:

Dennis Alan Lempert / Law Offices of Dennis Alan Lempert

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The demand from the lawyer is just a request.  I would suggest you NOT pay anything and just ignore the letter. I have never heard of a person being sued for not paying the demanded money.  The store owner is entitled to be compensated for any loss.  Generally it is more expensive for the store to pay a lawyer to try to collect the money.  Typically they will send a series of letters. If no money is paid they eventually close their file. Paying or not paying has absolutely no effect on the criminal case.

Dennis Alan Lempert

 

 

Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Civil Damages and liability is separate from Criminal Liability. In Michigan and most other States, if you have been charged or cited for retail fraud and or shoplifting from a store, not only are you liable for Civil Damages of the amount of the items stolen, up to but usually no more than $200.00, but you must still appear in court for the criminal theft charge as well. Please read the language in the statutory civil damage claim because often it will state that a payment or nonpayment of the civil claim will not release you from any criminal liability. Contact a criminal defense attorney in your area for information on handling both situations before you pay the $200.00


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