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Fine for shoplifting… is this the end?

Question: “I was caught shoplifting. They took my information, and told me I would get a letter in the mail within 2-4 weeks, and that I would have to pay a fine between $50-$500. They said if I don’t pay the fine, they will involve the court and it will go on my record. How long will it take for the letter to come in the mail? Once the fine is paid, does the incident close?”

Answer: Nothing will go on your record unless you are arrested and/or convicted. However, unfortunately, being told that this will end with a payment of a fine is not necessarily true. In my experience, I have had clients contact me for charges filed against them while they were making the arranged payments. What you are likely to receive is a letter from an attorney who handles their loss prevention recovery, which will include both the cost of the merchandise, as well as the attorney’s fees for obtaining the recovery from you. While you’ve likely made a statement already, I’d suggest you contact an attorney who can negotiate on your behalf, and further, if charges are ultimately filed against you, may be able to arrange a civil compromise whereby the store agrees not to prosecute upon paying the costs, if any, of the merchandise taken or damaged.

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