How can I defend my underage daughter who was caught shoplifting? 11 Answers as of May 12, 2011

My daughter is underage was caught shoplifting in the amount of $36 her court date with the Juvenile Court is on 06/01/11. This weekend we received a letter from the store demanding $574 for damages within 20 days or else they will file a civil law suit against my daughter.

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The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Hire her an attorney familiar with juvenile matters. Show the attorney the letter. Generally, I do not recommend payment of the demand as I believe the store cannot prove its case. Some are also blatant extortion.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/12/2011
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
Your daughter must go to court and be accompanied by at least one parent. Generally, the sentence is to take an anti-theft class and the charge will be dismissed afterward. The letter demanding payment is common and may largely be ignored, even though I realize it is stressful to do so. Feel free to call our office and we would be glad to discuss the case with you in more detail, free of charge.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/11/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
Assuming that they can prove to the judge that she shoplifted. You should pay the store. This will show good faith and will help out in court. If she admits the shoplifting she should get probation. An attorney will help.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/11/2011
Law Office of Jeff Yeh
Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
First of all, the civil case (if there is one, sounds more like bluffing to me) is separate from the criminal case in court. Since the amount was so little, a skilled attorney may be able to obtain a reduction for your daughter. But this would inevitably involve paying restitution as a condition.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/10/2011
The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
Ignore the demand letter. The store can only be reimbursed up to the cost of the items. Their demand for $574 is outrageous. You should contact an attorney to defend your daughter.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/10/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    You cant. What can you do? Hire an attorney, unless you know how to effectively represent yourself in court against a professional prosecutor intending to convict. No amount of free 'tips and hints' from here or anywhere else are going to effectively help you in your defense, other than the advice to exercise the 5th Amendment right to not talk to anyone except an attorney about the case. Most police and prosecutors will happily tell you that 95% of people convict themselves by trying to be 'helpful and cooperative', either during initial contact, questioning, interview or interrogation. Do not respond to the store or anyone else, let your attorney. If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    You need to hire an attorney. An attorney can possibly work out a plea that will keep this off of her record. This is very important for her future. You do not pay anything to store unless Ordered by the Court. Call me with any questions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Law Offices of Ramona Hallam
    Law Offices of Ramona Hallam | Ramona Hallam
    You really cannot do much by yourself. You should retain an attorney experienced in juvenile court matters. This incident could really have a huge impact upon your child's life as the record will still be viewable by law enforcement after she reaches the age of 18 and she will have a charge that is priorable. Theft is never a good charge. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    You should meet with an attorney to discuss both matters. I have had success getting similar petty theft charges dismissed. When handling the criminal matter, I also address the civil demand letter, sending a letter of my own directly to the requesting agency, questioning their legal authority for such a request. Most of the time in these cases, the store regained possession of the item unharmed, and they are able to sell it. Further, their "loss prevention" employees are being paid already, so they are not out anything. They can send out a civil demand, but it's not a court order for payment. I have not had any issues in the past with them filing civil lawsuits (and client not paying the demand). Call me if you would like to discuss further.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    First of all she can get a Public Defender without charge to you since she, most likely, has no money. You are not responsible for paying them. In the same way, you are not responsible for this shakedown letter from the store. The big problem is dealing with the criminal case. Usually in cases like this, if she has never been in trouble, or if the prior trouble was minor, they will most likely give her probation but will probably order a restitution. That will be a sum much smaller than the exorbitant amount the store wants. My suggestion is to just ignore it and let the court tell her what she has to pay.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    You might try to compromise with a counter-offer, if you are so inclined. It is a nuisance suit, really. Many retailers use this procedure now (Kohl's, JC Penney, Lowe's- to name a few). Personally, I would not pay them. Your daughter can only be prosecuted pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 600 et. seq., and she will probably received Informal Probation or Diversion. The retailer received their property back. How could the incident have cost the retailer $574?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
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