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Are you asking if they can charge you the fee?
Or if they can still file a criminal charge?
Or something else?
Ok, this called a "civil demand letter" and is allowed under the law to compensate the merchant for any costs or labor that they may have incurred due to the incident.
This is just a demand, and you don't have to pay it since they don't have a judgment against you. But the problem is that if you don't, they could then file a formal criminal complaint with the police for the shoplifting since the statute of limitations is up to a year..
So you can ignore them, but you run the risk of this turning into a criminal charge..
So if it were me or a client of mine, I would suggest that they just pay it rather than risk them getting vindictive and filing a criminal charge that would then have to be resolved. Any time someone can pay money to avoid a criminal charge, I would opine that is a good trade..
I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience,even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...