Posted on August 10, 2016

“Civil Demand Letter” for Restitution – Arrested or Cited for California Shoplifting?

If you were arrested or cited for shoplifting under California Penal Code 459.5, then you likely received a civil demand letter in mail from a law firm. The letter usually includes the demand for an immediate restitution payment and failure to pay the demand may result in a civil lawsuit filed against you.

These letters are frequently sent from the legal office representing the store even if you were never cited or arrested by law enforcement. Moreover, loss prevention security detains you, takes down your information, and transmits the offense into its database. Within just a few weeks, the alleged offender receives this notice in the mail.

The demand amount is usually a few hundred dollars and it’s supposed to be the amount to cover the restitution costs for detaining you and conducting the investigation to have the items returned. In fact, whether someone attempts to steal thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise or a small cheap item, the demand amount remains the same.

Hundreds if not thousands of letters are mailed out per day across the country. Therefore, the question becomes, will this law firm or department store know if you elect to disregard the letter and not pay it? Many believe that by paying the restitution amount may help with their criminal case. That is never the case as paying the amount will not affect the merits of the case nor will is serve as a mitigating factor to the prosecutor when negotiating a plea bargain.

Most individuals are surprised by the fact that they’re brought up on criminal charges after paying the restitution civil demand amount. As stated above, paying the amount will have no effect on a criminal case.

Suppose that you elect to not pay the restitution amount. If the legal office or department store elected to pursue a lawsuit against you, it would cost more in filing a lawsuit than the requested demand amount. Thus, the chances of someone ever being sued for stealing or attempting to steal an item from a department store is slim to none. Most people disregard the letter without any repercussions.

If you received a demand letter for a restitution amount, contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free confidential consultation. By retaining counsel early, we can explore methods of avoiding criminal charges being filed against you completely. Never assume that because you’ve been arrested that formal charges will be filed against you in court. Our office can contact the prosecutor early on in an effort to convince them to reject the case completely avoiding any formal court proceedings. Not to mention, it may help in preventing you from having a criminal record.

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