If I didn’t shoplift but my friend did, will i need to pay civil demand or get in trouble? 3 Answers as of April 17, 2017

A friend was caught with merchandise in her bag in the supermarket parking lot. I had nothing on me. They took us to their office and dumped her bag, took our information (which I gave mine because I was innocent and didn't want to escalate the situation, I didn't want them to call the cops on my friend). No cops were called. They had us sign a no trespass thing for 2 years, and said she would get a bill/ notice in the mail (civil demand). My question is if they send me a civil demand because they have my information, do I need to pay? I never touched the merchandise, we were just there together. I just worry about it going to court if I refuse to pay. I have a squeaky clean record and am probably being really paranoid about how this will affect my future.

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Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
The Civil Demand Letter is a letter sent by the attorneys (usually out of state) for the retailer where the shoplifting occurred. The letter will demand payment of between $250.00 and $500.00 as a civil penalty for getting caught shoplifting and sometimes quotes a civil code section. This is completely legal to send, but the law does not require you to pay it. As a rule, I tell my 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. Also, paying the civil demand does not guarantee that the store will not press charges later on. With that in mind, I would tell you 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. Hope this helps.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/17/2017
Law Office of Jeff Yeh
Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
Don't confuse the civil case between your friend and the store with the criminal case in court between your friend and the state. Signing the papers was foolish enough, and paying the civil demand will make you both look even more guilty. Hire a lawyer before you make a wrong move.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/17/2017
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
The civil demand is separate and apart from any criminal case. It is doubtful they will bother suing you if the police were not called if you do not pay.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/11/2017
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