I made the mistake of attempting to steal an $8 pair of socks from a Kohl's in California. On my way out, a man approached me and asked me to come back into the store to talk about the stolen merchandise. I followed, did not resist or try to run at all. They took me to a backroom and I filled out some forms, and they told me I'm banned for life from the store. They told me I would have to pay a Civil Demand, and if I didn't then I would have a warrant out for my arrest. Since I completely cooperated, LP told me they were not going to get the cops involved, I would not be arrested, and this would not go on my record or come up in a background check.
My question is, after reading online, Kohl's has a zero tolerance policy for shoplifting and basically all those who are caught will be prosecuted. If LP specifically stated (I asked two times to make sure what I was hearing was correct)that it would not go on my record, I would not have to go to court, and I won't serve jail time (as long as I pay the fine), what are the chances that any of this actually do happen? Everything I've read online has said how they have all had one of these things happen. What is my best course of action?
2 Answers from Attorneys
If the police were not called that day, the odds are overwhelming that nothing will happen to you. Could they file a report later? Yes, but I've not seen that done.
They cannot get an arrest warrant if you ignore their outrageous civil demand letter. It has nothing to do with any criminal case. The only way a warrant goes out is if the prosecutor gets a case submitted and they request an arrest warrant.
If you pay the civil demand, it just means they won't sue you in small claims - something they almost never do - and probably not over a pair of socks worth 8 bucks.
I agree with Mr. Dane. Additionally you should not talk about the incident on line or in person. If the police contact you, you should refuse to answer any question or permit any type of search. Instead you should immediately talk to a criminal defense attorney.
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