I was arrested for shoplifting from Walmart a few weeks ago. It was under $50, so I was charged with a class C misdemeanor. I responded to my citation by pleading not guilty so I could hire an attorney to help me choose my best options before changing my plea to guilty. My court date is in August, but I also got a letter from Walmart titled "Asset Protection Recovery" that says I owe them $200 by the end of next week.
What I'm worried is that, if I pay the fine, will that affect my trial at all? Since they technically haven't proven me guilty yet, does paying this fine tell the court that I am guilty, and will I get in trouble for it? Or does this fine have no influence on what happens to me in court?
I have the money to pay this fine, but that's about all I have. I've been saving since the incident to hire an attorney, so if I pay the fine, I'll have to start back from $0 to get an attorney on my case. I still have two months left, but I'd rather hire an attorney sooner than later so that he/she can help me with this situation that my dumb ass got myself in. Basically, can I get away with not paying this fine by the date, or at least not paying it until I plead guilty? Or will they still come after me even though I haven't been convicted yet?
Serious answers please. I already feel bad enough about this situation as it is, and I haven't stepped foot in a Walmart since then until I can 100% trust myself around their products, just to prove that I'm changing for the better. I'm just trying to think of the most logical step to take next.
Thanks for all the help.
PS. I live in Texas, if that means anything regarding this particular case.
It's not just a paper saying I owe $200, obviously, but I'll clarify what it says.
Our records indicate that on 5/21/2013, you were involved in an incident at a Walmart location that is considered shoplifting, theft, or fraud by the state in which the facility is located. As a result of this incident, you are liable for civil damages in the amount of $200, due by 6/23/2013.
This civil demand is being made in accordance to V.T.C.A TX CIV PRAC & REM s 134.005, a copy of which is enclosed. If the civil damages/penalty is not resolved by the date indicated below, we retain the right in accordance with V.T.C.A TX CIV PRAC & REM s 134.005 to proceed with a civil action.
Balance due $200.00
Due by 6/23/2013
To resolve this matter, please visit www.walmartrecovery.com, or contact our office at [phn #]. (The rest of this paragraph just talks about payment options)
Important Notice: Resolving the civil penalty/demand is separate action form and criminal charges and
-- does not precentl criminal prosecution under a related criminal provision. Civil demands/penalties may be in addition to criminal charges and or penalties and do not prevent fines or punishments which may be issued by a criminal court."
Then, on the back,
"V.T.C.A TX CIV PRAC & REM s 134.005
(a) In a suit under this chapter, a person who has sustained damages resulting from theft may recover:
under Section [blah], from a person who commits theft, the amount of actual damages found by the trier of fact and, in addition to actual damages, damages awarded by the trier of fact in a sum not to exceed $1,000.
(b) Each person who prevails in a suit under this chapter shall be awarded court costs and reasonable and necessary attorney's fees."
I have absolutely 0 experience with the law (like, no joke. I don't even watch Cops.), so I have no idea what this is saying...
I'm sure paying this won't drop the case. I've already got a court date set. I'v
I can't NOT show up to my court date. Besides, it states that paying the fine doesn't relieve me from that.
I was hoping to find any information regarding whether I HAVE to pay the fine if I haven't been found guilty yet. I've Googled all I can Google, and I found nothing. That's why I'm here. If I have to pay, then of course I will, but I'd rather settle my case with the court and focus my attention on my trial against the state instead of focus on Walmart. Besides, I'm mostly worrying that if I pay this, it might constitute as an admission of guilt, which I don't want, because I don't go to court for another two months.
Also, I did open the packaging/rip the tag off what I stole, so I don't think it's a scam, because I feel like I'm lucky to be getting off with JUST a $200 fine.
I can't meet with an attorney until Monday, so I'm not asking advice on whether I should pay it. That'll be my attorney's job when I hire
I'm needing help to clarify what all of this means, so that I can go into the meeting with the attorneys and at least semi know what we're talking about or what my options are. Thanks guys.
Also, why wouldn't I be from Texas? I'm pretty sure shoplifting isn't a rarity around here. :/