Thank you for the information and your question. Although the issue is one a court would have to decide if you refuse to pay and are sued, normally the amount that is alleged to have been shoplifted is the total value and the merchant does not have to divide it up between each alleged shoplifter if there is a group. In other words, the total amount could conceivably be the $174 and be charged to each. That said, these decisions aren't made in a vacuum so the court could allow for a division between them if there is clear evidence that they were taking things separately.
All that said, if you refuse to pay and the merchant sues you, the court could award them more than what they asked for. The law allows for damages of the amount taken, plus $100 or the amount taken plus $100 and actual damages to the merchant. The "actual damages" could include allocated costs of security officers time, etc. In addition, the court could award the merchant court costs and attorney's fees. So, you may want to try to negotiate with the Store and if they refuse, seriously consider whether you want to take your chance of having to pay more for a determination that the goods might be split. This is the statute that applies:
12-692. Shoplifting by unemancipated minor; liability of parent or guardian; foster parents
A. The parents or legal guardians having custody or control of an unemancipated minor who commits shoplifting as defined by section 13-1805 are civilly liable to the owner of the obtained goods for all of the following:
1. A penalty in the amount of the retail value of the obtained goods.
2. An additional penalty of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one hundred dollars plus the actual damages to the owner.
B. Foster parents are not liable under subsection A of this section for the acts of children placed with them pursuant to title 8, chapter 4, article 4 or 5.
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