FOLLOW US :
212-300-5196

White Glove Service. Excellent Results. Strong Reputation.

Read Our Reviews

Nationwide Legal Representation

We are an elite criminal defense law firm, that emphasizes providing the best service and professionalism to all clients. We service a curated clientele nationwide – that expect the best from their lawyer. We handle tough criminal defense and legal situations that require deep knowledge, experience, dedication, and excellence in order to win. We have over 50 years of combined experience, handling national and international cases.

Service Matters

Excellent results begins with top notch service. We treat you like family, and you always know what's going on with your criminal defense case.

Work Directly

When you hire our law firm, you work directly with a senior criminal defense attorney only. This ensures the best results possible.

Who We Are

We 100's of 5 star reviews, and have been featured in the media. We are a premier law firm who understands how to win cases.

Schedule Consultation

Top Rated Attorneys

The Spodek Law Group is one of the most successful law firms in the USA. Our success comes from the fact we are attentive to details, and take a very pragmatic approach to each and every single case. Our clients turn to us for realistic advice – so they can make the appropriate decisions they need to make personally. Our goal is to make sure your case ends in a positive outcome, not only personally – but for your family as well.

 



Civil Demand Letters in Shoplifting Cases

California’s statute that authorizes a law firm or company to send a civil demand letter to a person accused of shoplifting is enshrined in Penal Code 490.5 PC.  Such a letter demands payment for any losses the targeted retailer incurred as a result of the crime.

A demand letter may order payment of up to $500 to cover such costs as the item stolen, any damaged merchandise, and any employee or loss prevention officer that had to tend to the shoplifting matter.  The recipient of a demand letter is strongly advised to contact a criminal defense lawyer for advice before responding.  Its not advisable for a person makes any payments in response to a civil demand letter.  No matter how well meaning, that payment could equate to an admission of guilt.  Furthermore, a payment does not prevent the store from filing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit.

The connected offense, shoplifting, is a crime in California per Penal Code 459.5 PC. An individual commits the offense when he or she enters an open business with the intent to steal merchandise worth $950 or less.  This is a misdemeanor offense under California’s criminal legislation.

 

This offense is punishable by time in county jail for up to six months and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.

 

The California criminal defense attorneys at Spodek Law Group will spotlight the following in this article:

  1. What exactly is a civil demand letter?
  2. What should an individual do upon receiving a letter?
  3. What is shoplifting pursuant to Penal Code Section 459.5?
  4. What does the term “shopkeeper’s privilege” mean?
  5. Are retailers allowed to use force in detaining a shoplifter?

 

  1. What exactly is a civil demand letter?

In the context of a shoplifting matter, a civil demand letter is when the store (or the  lawyer representing the store) sends the individual accused of stealing and demands payment for any losses that the store incurred due to the shoplifting charge. This is often the course of action a store owner will take even if the merchandise was recovered and not damaged.

As it’s name implies, a civil demand letter involves a civil action (as opposed to a criminal one). Therefore, any payment given to the store is a form of civil recovery.

According to Penal Code 490.5 PC, a store can ask for these things in a civil demand letter:

  1. the cost of the item or items that the shoplifter took, or attempted to take (if the store was unable to recover that item),
  2. the cost of merchandise that was damaged, and
  3. the expense connected to a store employee or a loss prevention officer that handled the shoplifting case.

California law permits retailers to ask for up to $500 in losses from a person accused of shoplifting.  This is regardless of how much the item that the shoplifter took or tried to take actually cost.  In cases where the shoplifter was a minor, the defendant’s parent or legal guardian shall be jointly and severally liable to the retailer along with their child.

Although you are advised to refrain from responding without legal counsel, you should not totally ignore a civil demand letter.  If a shoplifter does this, PC 490.5 authorizes the targeted retailer to file a case in small claims court against the offender.

 

  1. What should an individual do upon receiving a letter?

The first thing a recipient of a demand letter should contact a criminal defense attorney for legal advice.  Counsel will likely advise his or her client not to act rashly in response to a letter and make a payment. The reason for this is that a quick payment may act as an admission that a person is guilty of a crime.

Furthermore, note that even if a person remits a sum of money in response to a demand letter, that does not preclude a store from filing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit against htem.

In practice, a lawyer may be able to work with a store to negotiate a lower payment and also remove the risk that it will initiate a criminal case or a civil claim.

 

  1. What is shoplifting pursuant to Penal Code Section 459.5?

The California law that makes shoplifting a crime is Penal Code 495.5 PC.  According to this statute, a person is guilty of an offense when he or she enters an open business with the intent to steal merchandise worth $950 or less.

In other words, shoplifting is going into an open business intending to commit the crime of petty theft, sometimes referred to as retail theft.

The criminal offense of shoplifting was enshrined by the voter initiative Proposition 47 in 2014. Before the passage of Prop 47, the act that is now defined as shoplifting could have been charged instead as Penal Code 459 PC burglary.  Shoplifting is usually charged as a misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by confinement in county jail (as opposed to state prison) for up to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

 

  1. What does the term “shopkeeper’s privilege” mean?

Pursuant to California law, the “shopkeeper’s privilege law” says that shopkeepers, or store owners, may detain a shopper if they have probable cause or reasonable grounds to believe that this shopper is guilty of shoplifting.

The criteria for this detention must be for a reasonable amount of time and used strictly for the purpose of investigating the possible shoplifting offense.  Whether or not a detainment is “reasonable,” or for a reasonable period of time is a determination the court makes on the basis of all of the facts of a specific case.

According to PC 490.5, a “shop owner or merchant” is an owner or operator of any store space that is purposed for the purchase or sale of any personal property capable of manual delivery.

 

  1. Are retailers allowed to use force in detaining a shoplifter?

Yes, a retail store owner does have the legal right to use force in detaining an alleged shoplifter.  The shopkeeper’s privilege permites a store owner to use a reasonable amount of non-deadly force on an alleged shoplifter that is necessary to protect him or herself and prevent the suspect from escaping from the store while awaiting the arrival of the police.

 

For more guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to reach out to our law firm at the Spodek Law Group. Our laywers provide free consultations, and we represent clients throughout the State of California.

 


Charle Butler
Charle Butler
2021-03-12
I was hesitant to hire the Spodek Law Group. I read reviews and knew they have a great reputation. However, I thought I would spend money and not see or speak to my attorney. From the beginning to end of my case Todd and the entire staff were available and willing to help. We worked towards and end result that was way above my expectation and Todd delivered. I am forever grateful for patience and long days and night spent working on my case. Thanks Todd and the entire team!
Mesonista parsons
Mesonista parsons
2021-03-05
My attorney at Spodek was Abigail. She was very knowledgeable and helpful with all my questions and concerns, as well as responsive. Her fees are affordable and Abigail took the time to make sure I understood everything relating to my case. I highly recommend Abigail and will request her services in the future.
debabrata chakraborty
debabrata chakraborty
2021-03-03
Todd A Spodek is the experienced and best criminal lawyer at USA. He is very professional and always respond on time. Alex also very cooperative and always help me. They took care me and my problem like family member. I am 100% satisfied for their professional service. My result was unexpected and amazing. They dismissed my case. I am really grateful to them. I will recommend you to go there if you want to solve your problem. I wish all the best for them.
Asata Hendricks
Asata Hendricks
2021-03-02
Truly appreciate the work the guys did!. Exceptional team & I know they care about each and everyone of their clients. I am super thankful to be referred to Spodek Law Group and I am grateful Todd & Alex were able to work diligently to achieve an outcome I am pleased with. Despite COVID they stayed on top of things and kept me informed every step of the way. Very thankful.
Mike Moroff
Mike Moroff
2021-02-26
I'm very satisfied with the services rendered by Todd, Alex and Mary Lou. I whole heartedly recommend Spodek Law Group . I've worked with and have retained other attorneys in the past with Todd's firm being the cream of the crop for many reasons. A very serious legal matter was resolved after a year's hard work and effort. Todd expertly guided me through the process and was able to navigate and make the good journey bearable as well as successful. Mary Lou initially provided excellent assistance before referring my case to Todd. Alex's support was effective and timely. The customer portal (MyCase) is an invaluable communication tool that also kept track of my case. Various aspects of my case were explained and there were several options provided but I made the final decision of how the case would be handled. The legal fee was reasonable considering the effort and amount of work plus it was a flat fee regardless of the length of time required to conclude my case. Todd made himself available to me and we had many scheduled meetings to go over the progress and to discuss the next steps. I felt more confident after many discussions with him. You will not go wrong choosing Spodek Law Group for legal matters.
Josh Katz
Josh Katz
2021-02-24
Being that it was the first time that I was in need of an attorney, I was afraid and hesitant and knew I needed the absolute best. It is beyond understood why Spodek Law Group has a reputation of being the top, if not the best law firm in New York. Alex and Abigail were there every step of the way even at the most unconvenient hours. I could not have asked for more. They are extremely good at what they do and they delivered much much more than just winning my case. A big thank you to Alex and Abigail for all the guidance and counseling and their upmost loyal support that extended far more than just legally. If you need the absolute best than don't hesitate to hire Spodek Law Firm.
L.C.
L.C.
2021-02-24
I cannot tell you how thankful I am to Todd and Alex for their hard work and dedication to my case. I had never been in any trouble before but I had an unfortunate event occur and in the midst of COVID-19 at that therefore I knew I needed a team that was dedicated to my success. Today- my case has been finalized and I’m walking away with no record and can continue life as a mother and a Grad student worry free. I cannot express enough gratitude for their assistance.
AnnMarie Soliman
AnnMarie Soliman
2021-02-23
I received a summons and called Spodek law group for a free consultation. Alex took my call and was very quick and responsive. He was available anytime through multiple platforms and very reassuring when needed. They are extremely organized and thorough. They got my case dismissed! I’m very grateful. Thank you Alex and Todd!

FREE CONSULTATION

Testimonials

Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them enough.

~ David Bruce

Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet.

~ Rowlin Garcia

Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind.

~ Francis Anim

Spodek Law Group

White Glove Service

We provide superior service, excellent results, at a level superior to other criminal defense law firms. Regardless of where your case is, nationwide, we can help you.



Hear From Our Clients

"Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them..."

David Bruce

"Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet."

Rowlin Garcia

"Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind."

Francis Anim
Read Our Reviews
Get In Touch

Schedule Your Consultation

Los Angeles

555 W 5th St 35th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013

212-300-5196



get directions

Queens

35-37 36th St, 2nd Floor Astoria, NY 11106

212-300-5196



get directions

NYC

85 Broad St 30th Floor, New York, NY 10004

212-300-5196



get directions

Brooklyn

195 Montague St., 14th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201

212-300-5196



get directions

Call Us