When someone is caught shoplifting from a store, they can also be charged a civil damages fee by the store between $ 50 and $ 500 plus costs and restitution for any damaged stolen property per California Penal Code 490.5(c). This fee is in addition to any criminal case and criminal penalties. Sometimes people think because they pay the store $ 325 per the demand letter from the retail outlet's attorney, they will not be prosecuted, but this is not true. You are still prosecuted for the theft and additional fines, possible jail, probation, and stay away orders could be part of the sentencing.
If you do not pay the civil fee, it is possible you could be taken to small claims court and have to pay a civil penalty fee, court costs and perhaps attorney's fees. If you are not guilty, you may not have to pay, but even if you get a lesser charge, you still may have to pay. The civil issue is completely separate from the criminal case. The Civil burden of proof is less than "beyond a resonable doubt", so it is possible to be found not guilty and still be found civilly liable based on the evidence for the theft.
It may be confusing, contacting the experienced shoplifting and petty theft attorneys at Christoph Law Offices for a free consultation by calling 760-941-5720. Wth over 30 years of experience, having handled hundreds of shoplifting cases, and across from Vista Courts, they know how to achieve the best result in your case.