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Barrister
Barrister, Criminal Defense Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 37017
Experience:  16 years practicing criminal defense.
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I was caught stealing at $74 perfume on Monday. LP caught me

Customer Question

I was caught stealing at $74 perfume on Monday. LP caught me right outside of JcPenney. They took my phone number, address, SS#, picture and banned me from all stores forever. They had be sign a trespassing paper and sent me home with a Civil Demand notice. Said I could expect something in the mail and to respond or I could have a warrant out for my arrest. No police were called and I have a clean record and this is a first offense! Just wondering if I can expect to go to court or have to pay a fine?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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If the police weren't called out to file a report and give you a summons, then they may have let you off fairly lightly with the ban and civil demand. The civil demand letter law gives them the legal authority to charge you up to $650 plus the cost of the item.

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Paying back the civil demand can be a positive help if they file a criminal case. WA state has a compromise of misdemeanor statute, which basically states that if the victim is willing to admit they have been financially satisfied for their loss (the $650 in the letter), they will agree to allow the prosecution to dismiss the case (after paying nominal court fees of course). This gets a theft conviction dismissed without ever having to admit guilt to it.

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But it sounds here like they didn't actually notify the police and file a formal criminal charge, which they would have a year to do . So if you can pay off the civil demand and put this behind you that is definitely the best course of action.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you! Would I have to go to court at all or just pay the amount stated on the letter and be done with it? I'm not really sure how any of this works.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

If the police were not called, then it is likely that they didn't file a formal criminal complaint so you wouldn't have to go to court at all once the civil demand was paid. There are generally two different penalties in a retail theft case, one is civil (i.e. the civil demand letter) and the criminal one, (i.e a summons and criminal complaint).

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So here it sounds like you may have caught a break if they didn't call the police and are willing to settle this for the civil amount.

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thanks

Barrister

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