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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27425
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My daughter was detained at a Walmart for shoplifting. The

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My daughter was detained at a Walmart for shoplifting. The police were called, no charges were filed and she was released. A few weeks later a letter from a law firm in Florida is suing her offering a $150 settlement. What is the best course of action?

With a shoplifting offense, the state has the power to come after the shoplifter civilly and/or criminally. Civilly, the law allows for hefty penalties to help defray a store owner's cost of insurance, his surveillance system, his security guards and his loss protection division. The money should be paid.

While it's not likely that the store is going to take her to court if she fails to pay the $150, do not think she is out of the woods as far as an arrest goes. While many people who commit crimes will get arrested on the spot, that's not how it has to go. The state just has to act and file charges before the statute of limitations for the crime runs out. After that, the case is deemed too old to be prosecuted. In Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years from the incident, meaning that if she does not pay the civil settlement, there is still the possibility that she will be prosecuted and will be ordered to pay it as part of her criminal disposition.

Paying the fine does not guarantee that she won't get prosecuted. But not paying the fine would make a misdemeanor charge much more likely.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Does paying the "Settlement" give evidence against her in court if she is charged? Is it in anyway like pleading guilty?

Yes it would constitute an admission. But how important that is depends on whether she wanted to try the case in criminal court if she's arrested. Or whether she'd want to cut her losses with a favorable plea bargain anyway.

I don't know how old your daughter is or what her criminal history is, but in general a first arrest shoplifting charge can be disposed of most times in some way that would keep the defendant's record clear. Whereas, if she loses at trial, jail is possible.
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