I am in my early 30's and this is my first offence of any type. I hope this post helps others in this situation. I was stopped walking out the doors with a $15 item (I won't go into details) by 2 young teenagers at a local Walmart. They talked very nice to me, asked for the item back and asked me to walk to the back near layaway with them. They took me into an office and said it's their policy to call the police and press charges on everyone over a $3 theft. They asked for ID and made me sign a paper saying I'd never go onto a Sams club or Walmart property (I'm assuming that means store or parking lot). They took pictures of me, and the item. Looking back now I wish I never signed anything but I was hoping if I cooperated they wouldn't call the police. But they did anyway. The police came and handcuffed me and walked me out of the store. I was then taken to the police station searched, and fingerprinted. The police asked where I worked and I lied. I didn't want them contacting my job. I also made sure not to give anyone my home phone number at any point. I was able to post bond for myself ($100 -via my debit card). I was given court papers stating my court date. I spent about 2 hours at the police station. The officer drove me back to the walmart parking lot to retreive my car. My name, address, and arrest was posted a week later in the local paper. I recieved tons of letters in the mail from attourneys. I'd say at least 15 letters. I called a local attourney I knew of and at my free office consultation he charged me $250 to represtent me. He would have taken payments, but I had the full ammount. The best money ever spent let me tell you. I think if you go public defender or go by yourself your gonna get screwed. He said first court date we enter a not guilty plea so then he could use that time to negotiate with the states attouneys office. He said sence I'd never been in trouble before I could get a small fine (ended up being another $235 at my 2nd court date minus the $100 I already paid at the police station), 6 months supervision and no community service. I made it very clear I did not want community service time. He showed up at both court dates and I did too. He did get me the deal he promised but also got it dropped down to a regular theft charge and not the retail theft charge it was. A retail theft has harsher penaltys and takes longer to get exponged if I wanted that in the future. After my 1st court date I got a civil demand letter in the mail and they wanted $225. My lawyer said not to pay it then cause it could admit guilt and they had no legal rights to ask for a civil demand. I didn't pay the fine. Now all my court dates are over and I told him I got a second notice from Walmart. He said it was up to me if I wanted to pay it but their is no law stating they can ask for that kind of money. I said I was afraid of going to court again and he said he's never seen any case of Walmart taking anyone to court for the civil demand ammount. I said I was also afraid they'd put it on my credit and future jobs would see it. He said if I wanted to just to pay the $225. I got a 3rd notice in the mail from Walmart last week stating if I didn't pay them in 10 days from the reciept of the letter they would take me to court. After much thought I decided to call and pay them over the phone today. I don't want more court. I already have to go back for another court date at the end of 6 months to prove I've paid my court fines and have been good for the 6 months supervision so then it will all be taken off my record. My lawyer says at this point all that shows on my record is an arrest and nothing more will ever show unless I break the law during my 6 months supervision...which won't be happening. I figure I'd rather pay $225 and have those jerks at Walmart off my back then haggle over $225. I called the # on the letter (1-800-236-7428) and when I got to a live person she asked me my name and to verify the last 4 digits of my social security number. At no point did I ever give walmart that info so I said no, I won't verify my social security number. (maybe they got it when they took down my drivers licence # from some way, but I won't take chances its none of their business at this point I figure) but then she asked me to verify the refrence number on the letter and I did. I asked her how she came up with $225 for an item they got back. She said something about thats the standard fee for all adult theft charges for Illinois. I asked if it could be reduced if I paid in full over the phone. She said no. I planned to pay via my debit card over the phone to get it all out of the way but then she said if you did that they charged an extra $35 because they put you thru to western union to take the fees. I said I'd just send a check today (I figure if I send a check when they cash it I have proof of payment if they ever come back for any reason) if she thought it would make it in the 10 days she said I had. She said go ahead and mail the check today and she's note my account. I'll mail off the check today. I'm mad at myself for giving in and paying the ammount but I'm tired of being hassled and want to put this behind me. I've tried searching the internet on Walmart retail theft civil demands but haven't found much except one case where the kids dad refused to pay and it ended up in court and the court made Walmart give the Dad the money back. I've also found on the net that in Illinois a retail theft charge expongement you have to wait 5 years. A regular theft is less time.
I wish others would tell their storys past the arrest to help others. I'm also curious on if anyone has refused to pay the civil demand to any store what has happened. Also I read a post that someone said they were told they were on a list as a shoplifter and any store that subscribes to this list/company can see your name on it. Any posts are appreciated.