Am I required to pay the civil demands by the store where I shoplifted? 2 Answers as of June 26, 2014

In April, my friend and I got caught shoplifting. I'm 16 and she's 17. The store took our names and numbers down. They called the police and we were arrested. We went to the police station (which was the state police). They took our photos, fingerprints and whatever else they needed. I went to court a few months later and the judge said all I had to do was take a shoplifting course, do 10 hours of community service and that's it. No fine or anything from the court. So far I got 3 civil demand letters from the store all requesting me to pay $500. Should I pay it? What should I do? All the merchandise was recovered not damaged. Help me!

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Law Office of Richard Southard
Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
Under general obligations law 11-105, the store may demand five times the value of the property taken with a maximum of $500. Even if the items are recovered in good condition, they are allowed to demand this to offset security costs. You are not obligated to pay it unless they go to court and sue you or you voluntarily agree to pay. A study from a few years ago showed that one firm sent out 1.2 million letters and sued less than 10 times. They rarely sue.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/26/2014
Barton Barton & Plotkin
Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
You don't have to pay but the store could theoretically sue you. You caused the store to incur attorneys fees and other expenses even if the merchandise was returned. Chances are they won't sue you but they might.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/26/2014
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