If someone is stopped of a theft, by a loss prevention officer or “LPO”, that person will be stopped and taken into the back room where the LPO will basically grill the person and ask them question after question in order to try to get a confession out of the individual. The LPO is not actually a police officer, so there is no reason to say anything to this person (though many will act as if they are). Many people think a LPO is a badged police officer, and because of that, individuals will usually discuss anything and everything with the LPO – believing I could help their case because of the perceived authority. You do not have to discuss anything with a LPO, and should not do so.
What they typically do is, once they get that confession, they have you sign a document that says you confess to taking ”X” items, and then they list all of the items. The LPO will tell you that they won’t call the police if you agree to pay a civil demand. That Civil Demand is basically a letter from the store’s attorney that say they are demanding that you pay them for attempting to steal something. That amount is usually about $380 to $490, no more than $500. They send this letter and, in it, suggest that they will not sue you if you pay the several hundred dollars they are requesting. Many people interpret that letter to mean that the store will not pursue criminal charges if the demand is paid. But that’s not the case. This amount can be several hundred dollars, even if it was a small item, such as a $10 tube of makeup or something.
That demand is not a judgment against you and will have no effect on whether or not the District Attorney decides to actually pursue criminal charge if the police were called. If the police were not called at the time of the incident, even if you pay that demand, they could still call the police and you could still be charged with the petty theft or shoplifting. If you don’t pay it, they could still do the same thing. So it has absolutely no bearing on the criminal side of it. What they typically do though, is say that the will sue you, civilly, if you don’t pay the demand.
I personally have never seen a store sue anybody for failing to pay that demand because it’s usually cost prohibitive. It’s usually going to cost them a lot more to actually file the paperwork and come after you for the couple hundred dollars that they’re trying to get out of you for attempting to steal something.
A civil demand is not a civil judgment. Basically, just like it says, they’re just demanding that you pay a certain amount of money, and in exchange they won’t sue you civilly. I usually tell people do whatever you feel comfortable with. If you don’t feel comfortable ignoring the demand letter, then pay it. If you are comfortable with ignoring them, then just ignore the demand letters – yes, there will be several attempts made. If you are comfortable ignoring the letters, make the store sue you, and then once they get a court judgment, you can pay that judgment then.
But that civil demand, alone, does not have to be paid. Like I said, it’s not a judgment. If they really want their money, then they can sue you for it. Then at that point, once that the judgment is entered, then you can pay that fine/fee. Until then, you’re under no obligation to pay it.
If A Person’s Son Or Daughter Shoplifts From A Store; Should The Parents Let The Law Take Its Course Or Retain An Attorney To Handle The Situation?
It’s always best to contact an attorney. Some people may think that if they were caught, they were obviously doing it, so let them take the punishment. A theft conviction, however, will really mess up your future. It will put you at a significant disadvantage for a number of things, including employment. So you definitely want to talk to an attorney first, and see if anything can be done, what they can’t do, and whether or not they think they can come to some kind of agreement for either an alternative charge so it’s not a theft offense, or alternative sentencing.
Most importantly though, most people don’t know exactly what their rights are – either state rights or federal constitutional rights. If they don’t know what rights they have, they don’t know when those rights are being violated, and if that violation is what led to the arrest or to the evidence being obtained against them, there may be a viable defense available. The only way to find that out if that has occurred is by having an attorney.
Expecting a Judge to tell you what to do when you go in for the first Court appearance is unreasonable. A judge is supposed to run the trial and make a decision based on law. A judge is not going to help a person do their own research. The judge is not going to say “You really should look into this because they can’t prove this.” The only way that your rights are going to be defended is if you have an attorney on your side.
For more information on Different Types of Theft Charges, a free initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling [number type=”1″] today.