How do I respond to a demand letter? 4 Answers as of September 09, 2010

I was caught shoplifting from a local convenience store. The plain clothes loss prevention employee caught me and I returned the items that I took (under $100 dollars). They took some of my information and let me go. Now they sent me a letter saying that I owe them a significant amount of money. Do I need to get a lawyer to respond to it?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Even if you pay the amount demanded, you will likely be unpleasantly surprised to find that the store will file criminal charges against you. That is the policy of most businesses now, full prosecution of all offenders, to try to deter such thefts in future. Yes, you should hire an attorney to handle this. First he can try to negotiate a civil compromise that will guaranty that no criminal charges are filed. He can also defend the charges when they are brought, if the store will not drop them. If serious about doing this, feel free to contact me.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/9/2010
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
On any legal action it is best to have an attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/9/2010
Law Office of Joe Dane
Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
Those demand letters are practically extortion. Yes, they can demand hundreds of dollars from you after a shoplifting incident. If you pay, it means they will not sue in small claims. But guess what? They almost NEVER sue if you don't pay what they ask.

If you ignore the letter, they may send a second and maybe a third. If they do not hear from you, they have to make a decision - to let it go or file a small claims case against you. I have yet to hear of anyone that has actually been sued after ignoring the demand letters.

The reason they never.follow through is that their "damages" are nowhere near what they are trying to force out of you in their letters. I assume they got their merchandise back and aren't out anything.

Your call whether or not to pay. If you want to consult face to face with a criminal defense attorney, that may help answer things further.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/8/2010
Click to View More Answers: