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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 13636
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I was in Walmart in the state of IL and I spent 194.63 in their

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I was in Walmart in the state of IL and I spent 194.63 in their store that day, after I checked out and processed to my van, buckled in two children, and was turning around to reach for my last Walmart bag two employees were standing there telling me to load everything back into my cart that I had in the store with me. I questioned WHY? They said I was shopping lifting! So I walked to the front of my van took my check book out of my purse and retrieve my recite and said I just spent 195.63 in your store and I SHOP LIFTED??? REALLY? The man was now yelling at me and said if i cooperated that he wouldn't call the police. I was FREAKING out, I did as they asked and without my knowledge the 2 year old I had with me had tossed several items into the cart, I had removed quiet a few and put them back on the shelf, but there were a few items that actually fell into her diaper bag that I wasn't awhere of! These are the things they said I stole! They wouldn't give me the total of the items, I even offered to pay for my mistake, and they wouldn't hear of it! The police were never called, there was no report made, and I signed NOTHING! Now I have received a letter stating I am liable for a civil demand in the amount of $300.00 under the accordance with 720 IL. Comp. Stat. Ann. & 6/16-27 ! I am FREAKING out! It was a HONEST mistake!!! I tried to correct it by buying the items, I did everything they asked of me, they were telling me with my 9 year daughter in the room that I was going to JAIL, and DCFS was coming to take her away from me! I was a complete UDDER MESS, trying to keep it together for my daughter and the 2 year old! What I to do? Can they really make me pay this?? Can the press criminal charges after the fact???
Scared MOTHER!!!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for using Just Answer. It will be my pleasure to assist you today. If after reading my answer, you require clarification or additional information, please use the REPLY feature, it will be my pleasure to assist you. First of all, I'm sorry you had to go through this. The way the employees handled the matter was VERY unprofessional, and you might consider contacting their corporate offices and filing a complaint.Can they file criminal charges after the fact?: Only the state, through the prosecutors office can file charges. No one else. Could Walmart contact the police though and file a report still? Yes, they could, because the statute of limitations, or time which the state has to file charges hasn't run, so a police report could be filed and an investigation done. Given that they didn't have you arrested or contact the police though when you were there, I would say it's highly unlikely that the police would be called now. That's not typical, in my experience. Theft also requires proving intent - if an item was accidentally taken because your child grabbed it off the shelf and you didn't see it until you left the store, there was no intent to steal. And as you mentioned, why would you spend almost $200 in the store if you were there to shoplift?Can you be held civilly liable?: Under Illinois law, a person who commits retail theft is civilly liable for actual damages equal to the full retail value of the merchandise, plus an amount not less than $100 and not more than $1,000, as well as attorney's fees and court costs. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/16A-27.) So, it would appear on the face that yes, they could.The issue I have with this is how "commits retail theft" is defined under section 16-25, which you can read here:'s a lot of legal terminology, I know, but the word that is repeated over and over is "intent" --a person who "intended", "with the intention of" --there was no intent here, and therefore I would argue, you didn't commit retail theft.The other thing is that this is a numbers came. Walmart hires a law firm who sends out likely hundreds, maybe thousands of such letters a week, and sees how many get paid. I worked for a law firm who had an attorney who used to do this type of work - he'd mail out nothing but collection letters all week long and try to get people to pay, basically by intimidating them -and it worked. I can't tell you what to do or not do, as I'm not your lawyer. But I can tell you that if you don't pay it, while the law firm could come after you for the debt, it's not likely to do so. They're far too busy, for one thing, and typically these cases would need to be filed in small claims court. It's not worth their time and filing fees to try and get a small judgment against you which they'd then have to spend even more money trying to collect. I can't promise they won't sue you if you don't pay, just that my experience is it doesn't happen, and you can probably ignore the letter without consequence. Nothing is going to happen to you or your children by not paying.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I had read that if I do pay the $300.00 that my name would be put in a data base and could be harmful to myself in the future when trying to get employment. First off I DID NOT STEAL! I am 100% NOT a theif! I personally think that (me rounding up HIGH) the items the found were $25.00 or less! How long of a time frame would Walmart have to actually file a police report? I am so discussed with this matter!!!! Along with very scared!!! What documatuins would you recommend for me to save in the just in case matter of them taking anymore action on this matter?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.The National Retail Theft Database is actually a voluntary list put together by different individual retailers. Further, any member that published the information on the list, can thereafter, remove it. You didn't sign anything at the store, so as long as you don't pay the civil demand letter, you shouldn't be added to this list. You might get more letters like the one you got -each a little more demanding than the last, threatening you with a lawsuit if you don't pay, etc., but then it should stop.The statute of limitations for the state to bring charges for misdemeanor theft --which is what this would be -- is 18 months from the date of the alleged offense. But as I said, since they didn't call the police when you were in the store, and they easily could have, I doubt very much that they are going to contact them now. I would hold onto your receipt of purchases made that day, and if the store gave you any other paperwork, that too. I really don't see this going anywhere -I think there won't be any criminal ramifications from this, and after another few letters trying to get you to pay the civil demand, they'll stop too. It's a scare tactic.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 2 years ago.
Did you need any further information or follow-up questions about this matter for me? If not, I would kindly ask that you remember to leave me a positive rating, as that is the only way experts on this site are paid for their time and expertise, even though you may have left a deposit. Thank you.