Should I respond to a letter from a law firm requesting payment for a shoplifting charge?

UPDATED: Mar 16, 2012

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Should I respond to a letter from a law firm requesting payment for a shoplifting charge?

A young adult friend of mine was arrested for shoplifting. A week later she got a letter from a law firm representing the store that says in essence give us $200 and we won’t sue you. The item value is about $10 – $20. She wants to put this behind her and is tempted to pay. There is nothing in the letter about not pressing charges, just the offer to NOT consider bringing further civil action against her. If she pays I have the feeling she will still be in front of a judge with potential additional penalties. There is no mention of dropping charges.No court date yet. No lawyer either.

Asked on March 16, 2012 under Criminal Law, Florida


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your friend was arrested for shoplifting, she will have a criminal matter stemming from it. The letter from the attorney is on behalf of the store that had merchandise stolen where the money demanded is a civil demand separate from the criminal proceeding. If the civil demand is not paid, then there may be a civil lawsuit stemming from the criminal matter for your friend.

I suggest that your friend consult with a criminal defense attorney about the shoplifting charge and the civil demand against her. My sentiment is to pay the civil demand for a full release in writing as to any civil lawsuit by the shop owner. It might help in the criminal matter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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