Legal Question in Criminal Law in Virginia

My daughter was caught shoplifting and returned the merchandise valued at $15. The store told her she was banned from the store. today I got a letter from the store stating they cant press criminal charges but if I don't pay $225 they will press civil charges. What should I do?

Asked on 8/13/19, 5:34 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jonathon Moseley Jonathon A. Moseley

The exact details of how this was done and what was said may be extremely important. I believe you should have an attorney look this over.

Depending on how this happened -- what they said, when, how -- may make the difference between an honest demand for restitution or extortion.

Did they say what the $225 was for?

I am guessing that they are charging $200 as a fee for administration or processing or something.

Here are a few things you should do to start with, but I think you should take it to a lawyer also after you do this:

First, ask them -- without arguing with them, as if you are just naively wondering -- how do they calculate the amount of $225.

Say -- again naively as if you are just wondering -- that you understood that they were disputing $15 worth of merchandise.

NOTE: Don't say that your daughter took $15 worth of merchandise. Don't admit that. Say that there were $15 worth of merchandise in dispute.

Maybe they are confused about what the merchandise was at issue.

Or maybe they are trying to add some fee that is not actually authorized.

In any event, if they do so you as a CIVIL lawsuit -- not criminal -- I don't think you should worry too much. If they proof that your daughter owes them $15 or even $225 it would just be a bill for payment of a debt.

If they are talking "civil" that's what they are talking about.

There is really no such thing as "civil charges." If they are pursuing a civil claim, it would only be for a debt, that some money is owed. That would be all.

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Answered on 8/13/19, 6:48 pm

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