Attorney Eye » AttorneyEye » Attorney Find » Should I pay the Walmart fine for shoplifting now or wait until my court date?

  #1 (permalink)
: 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.

"Dear [me],

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, 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. :/
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  #2 (permalink)
: So the letter said you owe them $200 and that's ALL it said?

No info on what happens after you pay or what happens if you don't?

There's NO phone number to call Wal-Mart to ask questions about this letter?

I believe paying this "fine" causes Wal-Mart to drop the case entirely - no court, no nothing.
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  #3 (permalink)
: sounds like a scam, only a court can issue a fine. could this be an offer by walmart to not press charges?

take the letter with you to court. or show it to your lawyer. a first consuultation appointment with attorney is usually free

this from YAHOO ANSWERS 2010
I was caught in January for shoplifting, everything I took in total was about 12 dollars. I spent a night in jail and was out on bond the next day. I paid the fine. Now its May 16, and last week I had a message on my answering machine from Michael Asen Law Firm in NY about my 'case'.

I called back to see what they were talking about, the lady said I owed walmart 150 dollars because i stole from them, and that it wasnt a criminal charge but like a penalty fine or something. She said she sent me a letter in the mail, but i never got it. So, she marked me down to pay it by the 15th and that she would send another letter. Still nothing. So i called back, told her I haven't gotten ANY letters and I WONT pay anything until I get a legit letter.

if you owe anything to WALMART it will be a thru a COURT ORDER
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  #4 (permalink)
: The letter is from Walmart. It's just a scam by Walmart to try to trick you into parting with your money. The letter is exactly what it says "asset recovery" and they'll do anything to try to recover their money (and maybe even more money than the value of the stuff you took) at this point whether through legal means or illegal means. I wouldn't pay it unless found guilty by the court in which case you should pay your fine to the court...not Walmart. Actions speak louder than words and if you do pay that money to Walmart now the court could view that as an admission of guilt.

Some of my former college professors liked to put trick questions on exams. None of the students in their class agreed with it. People aren't going to try to trick you in "the real world" we all claimed. But the truth is life can be a treacherous place to navigate and people DO try to trick you. Happens all the time whether it's a scammer trying to swindle you out of your money, a company like Walmart taking advantage of the situation, an identity thief trying to take you for everything you're worth or a predatory lender charging unreasonable rates on a loan or making illegal loans.

P.S. I hardly believe you live in Texas.
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