LawyersKey - Lawyers Key » USA Laywers » Lawyer New York » Shoplifting from Walmart?

  #1 (permalink)
: I live in New York, recently my friend stole about $100 worth of stuff from Walmart. I did not steal anything but was arrested for being an accomplice as we'll. we have a court date coming up. However Walmart mailed us BOTH a civil demand for $500.
Where did this amount come from ? And do we both have to pay? ( it's not like we took twice the amount of merchandise). Also will I need a lawyer for court

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  #2 (permalink)
: If you were truly innocent, and your friend was stealing without your knowledge or help (and is willing to man up and admit it), then go to court, respectfully explain the situation, and hope the judge is in a good mood.

If you are being less than honest about your involvement here, or you think your friend might roll on your to cover his backside, then consider hiring a lawyer - or at least talk to one or two (some will do free consultations).

If the judge lets you off, get some kind of documentation, make a copy of it and the civil demand and send it back to Walmart along with a letter firmly but respectfully explaining that you won't be paying it.

If you are being railroaded, ask the judge for a continuance so that you can lawyer up.
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  #3 (permalink)
: If you don't pay it they can take you to court. My advice pay the $500 and they might drop the charges. Either way $500 is allot less than the legal fees will be for court.

There are alot of answers on yahoo about getting caught shop lifting so look at these/those.
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  #4 (permalink)
: A civil demand is exactly what it sounds like, it is a civil demand for money. This is legal in most if not all states where a company can send you a civil demand requesting money. The concept is that the store has to spend money and resources to catch thieves and they want to recoup some of their money. The laws vary on these and how much the store can request.

So in short, the demand is likely legit.

Now regarding paying the demand....

The first bit of advice I would offer is contact your criminal defense lawyer. The civil demand is completely separate from criminal proceedings, but think about this if you were on a jury. Mr. X here says that he is innocent of all charges, but he paid a $500 civil demand pertaining to the case. I would check with your criminal defense lawyer to see if paying the civil demand would have any negative impact on the case.

There also is a debate whether one should waste their time paying a civil demand. If you do internet searches, there are two schools of thought on this. If you don't pay it, the law firm will likely come at you demanding a higher amount. So the first school of thought is that you should pay the civil demand. This will minimize the risk of the amount getting higher and potentially protect your credit score if you don't pay. The idea is that you got caught, so pay the piper so to speak.

The second school of thought is that this is small potatoes to a place like Wal-Mart. If you don't pay it, what will they do? Even a cheap lawyer is going to run $100 an hour plus fees and expenses. Is a company like Wal-Mart actually going to go after a person for $500 and then they might not even pay? Think about what it will cost them to pursue you and if you are broke, they can't get blood from a turnip. Not exactly a good return on investment. So the other school of thought is to skip paying it, ignore the letters, and the worst thing that might happen is that it might go to collections and your credit score takes a hit. The downfall to this is the fact you might end up being one of the people they actually go after and who knows how much they'd ask for in court.

As far as needing a lawyer. A shoplifting charge is something that is going to follow you around for a long time. It will prevent you from working with money and working in any field where there is potential for you to take items from customers or the company. You do not want a shoplifting charge on your record. Get a lawyer and figure out how to make this go away. I would think if it as a good investment on your future.
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  #5 (permalink)
: You don't need to do anything. You're innocent until proven guilty and there's no way to prove you guilty. Being arrested as an accomplice to a petty theft almost seems like a made up charge. Don't respond to the civil demand and wait to hear the verdict of the court hearing. Just tell your friend to admit all fault and you will have no problems.
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