Criminal and Civil Law in Utah
There are two main branches of law in Utah, criminal law and civil law. Criminal law is the laws governing behaviors that are prohibited by society and the punishments for violations of those laws. Private individuals don’t bring criminal charges against violators of the law; instead, the ability to charge a person with violation of a criminal law is given to state officials such as county and city prosecutors. Besides fines, the main punishment for violation of a criminal law is jail or prison. Civil law is the laws allowing individuals to seek redress for private wrongs committed against them. For example, if two people make a contract with each other and one of them violates the contract, the other person can ask a court to fix the violation by awarding the non-violating party money.
Sometimes criminal and civil law overlap. Assault can be charged as a criminal charge or a private person can sue another person for assault under civil laws. Retail theft, more commonly referred to as shoplifting, is another law where there are both criminal and civil penalties.
Shoplifters are Civilly Liable to Stores for Theft
Shoplifting violations occur in Provo and Orem when someone takes property from a store without intending to pay for the property. Shoplifting is usually charged as a class B misdemeanor which can result in a 180 days in jail and $1,000 fine. The criminal penalties are better know and understood than the civil penalties. Utah Code § 78B-3-108 makes a shoplifter civilly liable to a retail store for the crime of retail theft. This law allows the retail store to receive damages for the theft. Damages are the monetary losses suffered by the store as a result of the crime. Utah Code § 78B-3-108 also makes the shoplifter responsible to pay a penalty, courts costs, and attorney fees. The stores receives this money whereas in a criminal case the fine would be paid to the court.
Even though a person who shoplifts is liable to pay the store for the crime, he or she is not obligated to do so until the store receives a judgment against the person. This requires the filing of a lawsuit and a judge ordering the person to pay. However, most stores do not follow this course of action. Instead, the store will send a demand letter requesting that the person pay so the store will not have to file a lawsuit.
Contact a Provo Orem Area Lawyer
If you have been charged with shoplifting in the Provo and Orem area, and you have received a demand letter from the retail store, call us to speak with a lawyer today. Our lawyers will help you with both your criminal and civil cases related to the theft. Call 801.800.8246 to speak with us today.