If you get caught shoplifting and pay the store whatits attorney asks for, can the store still take you to court?

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If you get caught shoplifting and pay the store whatits attorney asks for, can the store still take you to court?

I was caught switching price tag at a store from $14.00 to $5.00. They led me into a room, got my name, took the merchandise back and gave me my money back; the cops where never called. I got a letter today from a law office, saying that I need to pay $300 within 30 days. After I pay this will the store still take me to court?

Asked on October 21, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The criminal law system is separate from the civil law system. The former prosecutes crimes to ensure the integrity of the law and society; the latter tries to get compensation when someone feels wronged. This separation is important to remember because even if you repay the victim of a criminal act, since a crime was committed in the first place, you *could* theoretically face criminal prosecution: reimbursement of the victim does not mean you can't face charges. (After all, if it did, then organized crime and white collar crime would never be prosecuted: when caught, they'd just pay off the victim.)

Obviously, if you satisfy them, they are less likely to report this as a crime, so paying will increase your odds of not being prosecuted--but it does not prevent it.


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