What Is a Motion for Civil Compromise and How Does It Work?
The Reader’s Digest Version: A motion for civil compromise is limited to misdemeanor matters, but can be used for a variety of offenses from shoplifting to hit and run to vandalism and if granted, results in dismissal of the case.
An attorney representing an accused in these types of cases should immediately contact the victim to explore payment in exchange for a declaration from the victim that he or she has been fully compensated for the loss and he or she does not want the prosecution to proceed. Prompt action can sometimes encourage the victim to be less than cooperative with police, which can improve the chances that no criminal case will be filed.
Quickly contacting the victim must be done carefully, with sensitivity towards the victim’s loss and whether the victim is vengeful, nonchalant or even unaware that a prosecution is pending.
When the victim is a commercial establishment (i.e. Costco, Vons, Fry’s Electronics, Gelson’s, JCPenney, Sears, etc.), a loss prevention department may be involved. When this is so, the loss prevention supervisor is usually the best person to contact, preferably in person. This supervisor may be ready to specify an amount the store seeks and may have a store policy it follows in responding to a civil compromise request.
In our experience, such policies may change over time or may be subject to the circumstances of the case. So the fact that Costco, for example, refused to cooperate in a civil compromise request in the past may not mean it will continue such a policy.
The circumstances of the case may be a determinative factor, too. If the value of the items, for example, do not exceed $100 or the client cooperated with loss prevention, the store may be amenable to signing a declaration for a motion for civil compromise. The store’s position may also depend upon the number of items taken and the age of the shoplifter.
Regardless of whether the victim is a commercial establishment, it is smart to discuss the mitigating factors of the case with the victim or loss prevention to make such a motion seem like the “right thing to do.” While discussing the case, it is prudent to acknowledge the victim’s anger as well to build your own credibility.
For more information about shoplifting and vandalism, click on the following articles:
For case summaries of selected theft offenses and vandalism cases our firm has handled, click here.
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