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Can the Store Demand Money After You Are Caught Shoplifting?

 Posted on February 26, 2020 in Theft

IL shoplifting attorney, IL defense lawyerShoplifting, officially known as retail theft in Illinois, is a very common crime. When it occurs, the person is often caught by store clerks while they are still on the property. In these cases, the store has a few options. They can simply ask for their merchandise back and allow the person to leave. Most of the time when this happens, the person is also banned from returning to the store. The store could also detain the person for a period of time before allowing them to leave. Or, in the worst-case scenario, they could call the police and press charges.

Many times, the store will let you go if you are caught shoplifting merchandise with a very small value. However, they may still send you a demand letter requesting that you pay them a fine. The question is, should you?

Is a Civil Demand Letter Binding?

A civil demand letter is not binding. That means you are under no legal obligation to meet the demands of the letter. However, it is important to understand that if the store has hired an attorney and taken this first step, they are likely going to pursue further action if you do not comply with the demand.

The best way to determine if you should pay the amount the demand letter is asking for is to speak with a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can advise on whether the demand is reasonable, the future steps the store may take if you refuse to pay it and represent you in case the store does take further action.

When Do You Have to Pay?

There are times you may have to pay the store restitution. If the store files a lawsuit against you in civil court, they will ask for compensation for their damages. This is not usually a step taken by commercial businesses, particularly if you did not leave the store with any of their merchandise. However, the store may decide to press criminal charges.

After being caught shoplifting, you are not entirely free and clear, even if the store has allowed you to leave. Once they send their civil demand letter, they may still decide to press charges if you refuse to pay restitution. If they do this, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. If you are convicted and a judge or jury finds you guilty, the judge will then likely order you to pay restitution to the store owner. You may also face additional fines that are paid to the state, and will also incur court costs you are required to pay.

You Still Need an Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been caught shoplifting and the store allowed you to leave, you should still speak with a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can advise on civil demand letters and, if you decide to pay it, a lawyer will protect your rights and ensure the store does not take further action. If you have been accused of shoplifting, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. Attorney Cosley has the necessary experience to advise on the next steps if a store has caught you shoplifting, and will give you the best chance of beating any charges you face. Call us today at 847-394-3200 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.


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