My clients charged with retail theft or shoplifting generally receive a letter from the retail establishment (Macy’s, 7-11, etc.) asking that they pay a fine to cover the store’s costs associated with the alleged offense. This amount is generally between $200 and $400.
Should they just pay this? Generally, I tell them “yes.” I do call the store and ask for a reduction in the amount requested and ask that my client be allowed to make payments. Many times, the store is willing to do this, especially if the call comes from a lawyer.
Retail stores handle these fines differently. Interestingly, I have noticed that the locale of the store can make a difference as well, whether the store is located in Salt Lake City versus Provo, for example.
Retail theft clients should never ignore or “blow off” the store’s request. It isn’t worth the stress and headache if the store decides to file a civil suit. They won’t always sue, but again, it’s not worth the risk. So, I generally tell clients to just pay whatever amount I can work out with the retail store where the theft allegedly occurred.
Notice that I used “generally” a lot in this post. That’s because there are always exceptions to the rule.
This is just one of the collateral consequences of a shoplifting charge. A collateral consequence is a consequence to being charged and/or convicted of retail theft that is in addition to having to go to jail, doing community service or paying a court fine.