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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    3

    Default 16 Years Old, Caught Shoplifting for the First Time

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: CA. In October of 2009, I was busted for shoplifting at a Sears. I did not resist, I quietly followed the LP guy to the back. I stole about fifteen dollars worth of merchandise. No cops were called and I'm sure none of the LP guys were cops either. I asked him if there was any program they had where I could do community servce or work it off to pay for them. One of the guys said "you're not getting off easy" the other guy then added "yeah he is. hes getting off easy because we're making him pay a civil demand instead of calling the cops" I was somewhat relieved and asked him if any employer would see this and he told me that they would not if i never wnet in the store again and I payed the civil demand. about a month later, the civil demand came and i gave it to my dad to take care of it. He acted stupidly and ignored it and then they sent a second request. I told him to take it seriously and he sent a check for 50 dollars (they asked for 325 total but allowed us to pay in monthly installments of 50 dollars plus a small service fee.) ANyways, I was supposed to pay on november 20th, but my dad ignored it and we ended up paying on the 8th, about one day before they said theyd pursue a civil suit. It has been over a month since that day and no more civil demand letters (with the pay coupon that I use to send the check with) has been sent. I;m afraid theyre done trying to get civil recompensation and are filing a suit. If so, how long before I receive a court notice. and also, how long after the crime can I expect to see a criminal court notice if they do decide to press charges ? is it likely they will ? Is there a chance that the lawyer was just satisfied with the 50 dollar payment and decided to not send anymore letters ? since it was just a knee gel pad I tried to steal. Last question, how would I be notified that I have criminal charges pending (in person, mail, etc)

    SUMMARY for tl;dr:
    10/27/09, stole, got caught, no cops or citation
    11/19/09, they said I have till the 9th to pay or else theyll consider law suit (2nd letter they sent)
    12/8/09, sent 50 dollar payment
    1/25/10 havent received another civil demand letter and i would need one since they have a pay coupon that i send money through.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Shoplift, First Time, California

    The store has 1 year to file criminal charges.

    Did Dad keep the previous letters? If so, you have contact information in the form of an address or telephone number. I'd contact them immediately. Pleading "No Payment Coupon" in civil court won't work. (Oh yeah, it also won't work when the store takes you to Criminal Court and the judge asks if you have paid the demand......)

    Tell Dad that if he doesn't pay, HE (being the parent of a minor child) is the one who will be sued in Civil Court. Along with having his CREDIT RATING negatively affected (they see this as the equivalent of an unpaid bill).

    Add to it: The Civil Demand amount will double, if not triple. And if the store does sue Dad for the money, they add in their legal costs as well.

    And the likelihood of you being charged in Criminal Court greatly increases. So now add in: Courts costs and fines; the cost of a lawyer or public defender; and the cost of any program they put you into. (Court costs/fine averages $300+; Public Defender, $250 here; Diversion Program/Anti-Shoplifting Class....not free.....)

    And you will not be able to get a job in a field that involves handling money/credit cards, or any retail job.

    I'd print this and show it to Dad right away. Sounds like he isn't taking this seriously at all.

    Just to sum it up: $325 ignored can turn into $2000+....

    PS: If Dad did not keep the letters....you should call the store and obtain the phone number...just explain that you shoplifted, lost the address for the payment, need the phone number to call to make payment arrangements.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    3,835

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Shoplift, First Time, California

    Quote Quoting PandorasBox
    View Post
    The store has 1 year to file criminal charges.
    That's for a criminal prosecution to commence, the longer the merachant waits, the prosecutor may decide not to file. Although it is a possibility, maybe not likely, who knows, as they are not really entitled to just "sit on thier rights" until time almost lapses. The defense can make note of it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Caught Shoplifting for the First Time

    If my dad couldn't pay court costs / fines would it all go on his credit rating ? Would they force him to pay in some way ? My family's not the richest :[ What are the most serious repercussions ? I'm not worried about me being criminally charged since the likelihood of me being a candidate for diversion is high since this is my first offense ever and it was a miniscule amount stolen. I just don't want my dad to have to take the full brunt of it for my mistake. His credit rating isn't a big problem, I'm just scared they'll take restitution in other forms.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Texas/Tejas
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Caught Shoplifting for the First Time

    325 dollars in "civil demand" for a 15 dollar item? Thats extortion. These major corporations are lucky a ain't a lawyer. I would be their worst enemy.

    I fail to see how they can throw you in jail for not paying CIVIL "demands". Debtors prisons are illegal under the US Constitution...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    16,307

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Caught Shoplifting for the First Time

    I fail to see how they can throw you in jail for not paying CIVIL "demands".
    They don't throw you in jail for failure to pay the civil demand. They just go ahead with the criminal charges and throw you in jail for those.

    Although retailers are legally permitted to both pursue civil demands AND criminal prosecution, many simply issue the civil demand and leave it at that, unless the CD isn't timely paid, on the premise that people would rather pay the demand than have a criminal record for their dumbassery.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Caught Shoplifting for the First Time

    If your dad doesn't pay:

    The store can (and likely will) file a Civil Lawsuit against him.

    And in that Civil Lawsuit, they will tack on the costs of filing the lawsuit and their attorney fees (Think of attorney fees of $200/hr).

    On Dad's Credit History, it will be seen as an unpaid bill. Dad's Car Insurance rates may go up (my car insurance carrier looks at everything - my high credit rating gets me a discount); if Dad wants a new car, a new apartment, a new home...his credit rating is one of the first things they look at. It can affect interest rates he pays on items like a car or a credit card.

    You should also be concerned about the chance of being charged in Criminal court. It's going to be mean more money that your family will have to shell out because of YOUR stupid mistake.

    And your possibility for Diversion being high? First of all, not all areas allow Diversion Programs (and if you qualify, it will still cost money - sorry, the programs are NOT free!); and the fact the demand has not been paid doesn't look good to the judge (in my case - the judge likes to see the demand has been paid, so I had to bring proof of payment with me. And my attorney stated "The Civil Demand has been paid and we offer proof....".

    Tell Dad to pay now before he has to shell up a heck of a lot more.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Caught Shoplifting for the First Time

    Is it true that they'll likely file a civil suit ? I've been reading up on this and some sources say that they almost never follow through with a suit. The collection agency I got was Neal C. Tenen Law Corporation. I distinctly remember reading a different attorney in CA stating that none of his colleagues heard about a company filing a civil suit over civil demand.
    I'm not from the best neighborhood and I've heard of people being involved in assault cases where they've qualified for diversion. I just figured that whether or not I payed the civil demand (so far I've sent 50 dollars) I would qualify. San Diego County has many diversion programs for my ZIP code. Unless judges are really quick to prosecute 16 year olds for shoplifting -_- sigh, what a poor choice I made.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Caught Shoplifting for the First Time

    Well, if you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    NW of KSTL
    Posts
    2,554

    Default Re: 16 Years Old, Caught Shoplifting for the First Time

    Quote Quoting blueeagle
    View Post
    325 dollars in "civil demand" for a 15 dollar item? Thats extortion. These major corporations are lucky a ain't a lawyer. I would be their worst enemy.

    I fail to see how they can throw you in jail for not paying CIVIL "demands". Debtors prisons are illegal under the US Constitution...
    Believe it or not, a lot of retailers invest quite a bit into loss prevention measures.

    Civil demand provides an expedient recourse to attempt to recoup/defray those sort of costs.

    Just like restitution is usually ordered by the court in the event of a conviction regardless of merchandise recovery at the time of offense.......methinks the judge(ment) does not view it as "extortion"!

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