Shoplifting may seem like a minor offense, but if you are caught stealing property, you could face serious consequences. If you are caught in the act, you could potentially face criminal charges.
The attorneys at Mendoza Law Firm are available to help if you have been accused of or arrested for shoplifting. Below, we discuss what legal action may be taken against you and if it is in your best interest to pay a civil demand letter for shoplifting.
If a retailer catches you shoplifting, they may do the following:
Under the Texas Theft Liability Act, a retailer (i.e., plaintiff) may recover the following if pursuing civil action:
If the alleged shoplifter is under the age of 18, then the retailer may be eligible to recover up to $5,000 from the minor’s parents.
Commonly, a business that catches a person shoplifting will send a civil demand letter to the offender. A civil demand letter is sent by the lawyer or law firm representing the retailer, and it demands that you pay a sum of money to cover the cost of the goods stolen.
The letter will often request significantly more money than the total price of the items stolen, even if the items were returned undamaged. The plaintiff may justify the demanded sum as being the cost of incurred expenses. These costs may include additional security guards, the cost of installing security cameras, and the cost of legal fees that the business has to pay.
A civil demand letter will offer a consequence: if you don’t pay the demanded sum, then the retailer will file a civil lawsuit against you.
A civil demand letter is the business’s attempt to collect money from you, but usually, nothing will happen if you refuse to pay or simply ignore the letter.
A civil demand letter doesn’t cost much for a store to send out. If the item you stole is not worth much, then it won’t be worth the retailer’s time or money to pursue the theft any further.
Even if you do pay the requested amount, that doesn’t mean that the retailer won’t take further legal action. The retailer still has the option to file a civil lawsuit in court or to have the police press charges against you.
In a recent year in Texas, a reported $30.4 million worth of merchandise was shoplifted, with the average offense being valued at $368.
If the business contacts the police, it is up to the police to press charges against you. If you receive a civil demand letter but have not yet heard from the police, then law enforcement has likely decided not to press charges.
If you have been accused of shoplifting, do not hesitate to contact a theft crimes lawyer today to discuss your next steps.
Shoplifting is a crime that can have serious ramifications. If you have been accused or arrested for shoplifting, you need a theft crimes lawyer who knows your rights. Get the representation that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
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