Do I have to pay the $500 civil claim for the petit larceny charge I got? 37 Answers as of June 13, 2013

I was charged with petit larceny $238.00 worth of clothes. The store has sent me a $500.00 civil claim. Is it true? What is going to happen on the court date?

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Anderson Law Office
Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
The store can go after you for what is called a civil penalty. With no prior offenses the criminal case is manageable but you should get an attorney to get the best result.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 9/14/2012
Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
I don't know. I cannot predict the future.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 9/12/2012
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
Hire an attorney. Do not pay or admit liability on the civil claim until you have met with your attorney.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 9/6/2012
Law Office of Richard Southard
Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
As of now, it is a claim and nothing more so there is no legal obligation to pay it. If the company decides to sue you and they are successful, then you will have a legal obligation to pay it.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 9/6/2012
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
The notice will refer to a state law which authorizes the civil penalty. You should read the statute to see if you believe it affects you under the circumstances. You can also consult an attorney who can interpret it for you.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 9/6/2012
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    As your attorney would have told you, this is a civil claim.. You can choose to pay or not. If you do not, then you could get sued. If you plead in the criminal case, then there is greater likelihood that you would lose in any civil claim I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    The civil claim is redundant if they get awarded Restitution in criminal court.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
    The $500 civil claim letter is just that, a civil claim letter which should have no effect on your criminal case. As a rule, I advise clients to ignore these civil demand letters. Unless you signed some agreement to pay this store, you owe them nothing. In order for you to owe them something they would have to sue you and win. However, It would cost them much more to sue you than they can ever hope to recover so they usually don't pursue it. With that in mind, I would advise that they can still take legal action against you by filing suit in small claims court. If you ignore these actions, a default judgment will be entered against you. So, although you can ignore the civil demand letter, do not ignore anything that comes from a court. With regards to your court date, you should contact an experienced criminal law attorney for a face-to-face consultation and give him/her all of the facts surrounding your arrest. He/she would then be in a better position to analyze your case and advise you of your options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    No. The criminal case will also involve restitution to the store. When charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a search or statement be used against you, can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all appropriate defenses with whatever witnesses, evidence and sympathies are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or for trial. Effective plea-bargaining, using those defenses, could possibly reduce the potential time and other penalties you face.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    James M. Osak, P.C.
    James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
    You're being charged no matter if you pay the $500 or not. The law allows retailers to charge for the cost of your actions. It's NONSENSE! I advise people NOT TO PAY. What happens if you're found NOT GUILTY or charges are DISMISSED? THEY NEVER RETURN THIS MONEY. They may sue you for it . . . so what? THEY GOT THEIR MERCHANDISE BACK. THEY PROBABLY ALREADY SOLD THE JUNK. THERE IS NO LOSS TO THEM.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    I would not pay them. Make them sue and go to court and fight the small claims case. Most judges will not give them that much money.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    You need to pay the amount to the store. The court may ask if you paid so be sure you have proof, if unrepresented. The court will ask how you plead to the charge.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    If you fight the matter civilly and lose you can pay the amount plus attorney fees etc.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    No. the civil demand has nothing to do with the criminal court case. Paying it won't make any difference to the case in court. What you need to do is hire a criminal defense lawyer before you incriminate yourself further.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Hold onto the letter. Show it to your attorney. He/she may be able to use it to obtain a civil compromise which could make th charges go away. Do not attempt this yourself.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Yes. The civil penalty is generally double the amount stolen. This is in addition to the criminal charges and penalties.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    Under the law, the store can assess a civil penalty of twice the value of the merchandise. If the clothes total was as you say, you were asked to pay to much.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Law Office of Ronald G. Draper | Ronald G. Draper
    Yes. And you must appear in court. Consult with a lawyer about your options
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Lee Law Group | Ernest Lee
    Yes it is true. You now have both problems. The store is suing you and if the court continues its prosecution, you must defend there. You need legal counsel.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    Hire a lawyer! I get these cases all the time, usually AFTER the person has paid the civil demand. If the merchandise was returned to the store in sellable condition, where is the harm? I typically advise my clients not to pay that civil demand. Often there is a good possibility of getting the case dismissed and NOT paying the civil demand. If you can win at the Clerk's Hearing no criminal charge even issues. It is very much to your advantage to hire a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    The civil penalty is separate from the criminal charge. If you do not voluntarily pay it, the store may bring a civil suit against you but it does not become an issue for the criminal court.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    In a shoplifting case if found guilty you will have to pay for the cost to the store for all the costs related to filing charges against you. $500.00 is within the range that the court will approve and require you to pay before you are off probation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    You should hire an attorney to negotiate a favorable outcome and depending on the outcome you may or may not need to also pay the civil claim.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Law Office of Mark Bruce
    Law Office of Mark Bruce | Mark Corwin Bruce
    The civil claim is for investigation costs. You should negotiate with the store for a lower sum. Not sure what kind of a court date you are asking about; if an arraignment, this is not an issue yet. If a civil court date, just ask the store to give you an itemized billing for the amount they're requesting.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    Most stores do this and send a demand to the defendant to pay civil money. Most lawyers tell their clients not to pay it. If the store got its merchandise back, or if you were ordered to pay restitution, then you will have satisfied the legal requirements. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer and do what he/she tells you about this money, but don't pay it until you see a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD | Mace Yampolsky
    Civil claim is different than criminal. Talk to a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 6/13/2013
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    The civil penalty letter you got from the store is separate from the case in criminal court. The prosecutor will not seek to collect and civil penalty in the criminal case. Normally if you ignore the civil penalty letter you will never hear any more about it. However, the store could sue you to try to recover the civil penalty but it is unlikely they will do so.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Yes it may save you from criminal charges.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Is what true? On the court date you will fight and argue that the fine is disproportionate to the items you stole, and see if the judge goes for it. If not you will pay $ 500 + $ 238 in restitution + $ 500 or more in fines. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    The store should/can do both. Civil demand and criminal charges. Get a lawyer it's the best you can do.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
    I do not know exactly what you were charged with (state ofense? A city offense?) You must decide if you will contest the charge. You should probably consult with an experienced criminal law attorney to explore the options. The law allows retailers to pursue civil damages too. Don't do anything until you speak to the attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Life is about making good decisions and avoiding trouble. It is about getting a good education, a good job, and being successful. Successful, intelligent, mature people do not shoplift because they realize that it will ruin their reputation, give them a criminal conviction, and cost them far more than the few dollars they can steal. Most people who shoplift are young, poor, or drug addicts. They are impulsive and do not think they will be caught. The stores have security cameras, secret shoppers, security guards, and will prosecute to the full extent of the law. They are entitled to sue for civil damages and have law firms that send out letters to ask for the payment. They seldom follow through with the threat to sue or collect because they charge $300 per hour and if the amount is under $1,000 it is not worth the trouble. Of course hat does not mean that this store will not pursue it and if you want to protect your credit you can pay the civil fine. You should retain a good criminal lawyer to get an ACD dismissal so that you do not have a criminal record. The amount you stole was over $150 and some prosecutors will want a Disorderly Conduct conviction. That will mean that future employers and schools will know that you were charged with shoplifting and will not hire you. It is a very tough job market and an criminal conviction will make it even harder to secure decent employment. A criminal conviction will never be removed and even 20 years from now employers will be able to do a record search and find it. If you knew all of this before you decided to steal the clothes you would probably have just walked out of that store and made do with your old clothes, but you did not think of what the consequences were or thought you would just get a slap on the wrist. If you walk into traffic you will get hit by a truck. If you play with fire you will get burned. You must use this as a learning experience and learn the law and follow it. Get a good education, study communication and people skills, get a great job you love, and establish a reputation as a good person who helps others and is honest and fair. That will lead to success in life. Make good decisions and good things will happen for you. I know you realize that it was wrong and not a good decision, and I am sure that you will be very successful in the future if you learn from this experience. Maybe you should send the store the check just to know that you learned your lesson, but I think the money would be better spent on a good lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    LeadfootSpeedingTicket.com
    LeadfootSpeedingTicket.com | Andrea Storey Rogers
    No, you don't have to pay it. The civil demand from the store is completely separate from the criminal charge, and paying it will not make any difference in the criminal case. The only way you would owe the $500 civil claim is if the store sues you in court and wins a judgment against you. For $238, the store is not likely to spend the money to sue you. Regarding your criminal charge, you definitely should hire an attorney to represent you in court. Your attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor to get the shoplifting charge reduced to a lesser offense.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/6/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Yes. Civil damages are generally allowed by state statutes even when the proprty is recovered. However, paying may also be used as evidence of guilt in the criminal matter. As a result, you should hire legal counsel. .
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/6/2012
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