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The Concept of A Civil Demand Letter In Virginia

Interviewer: What about a Civil Demand Letter?

Brian Geno: Civil Demand Letter is when a victim sends a letter saying that they have the statutory right to charge you a fee for having to go through the effort of prosecuting you. It would come up in the instance of, let’s say you stole from a retailer and then that retailer caught you and whether they prosecuted the case in court or not, they had to go thought the effort of capturing you, getting the property back, questioning you, for that process alone the law allows that vendor or that establishment to charge a fee. I think in Virginia it is a hundred and seventy dollars.

If A Defendant Wins His Case, He Should Not Have to Pay the Establishment

Many times the people who come to my office will also, in addition to showing me everything from their case, show me this letter saying that this particular retailer has asked me to pay a hundred and seventy dollars for having done this. What should I do? Should I pay it? I always say that the commercial establishment may have the right to ask for a hundred and seventy dollars, but it is also that person’s right to defend themselves in court and fight for what they believe is the right result. If they are going to pay at all they should pay after the case is concluded against them. If they lose the case then pay it. If they win the case I would say make that commercial establishment collect if from them. I don’t think they’ll be able to. I don’t think a person should have to pay the establishment if the defendant wins his case.

It is Not Advisable To Plead Guilty and Expect Mercy From The Court

Interviewer: Some clients may ask, “Okay, they caught me. I am guilty. Should I throw myself to the mercy of the court or should I fight the charges?”

Brian Geno: I never recommend to someone to throw themselves on the mercy of the court. They may wind up on the mercy of the court, but they shouldn’t wind up there willingly. It would be after they fought for themselves and then they ask the court to, if they lost, to punish them, and only then. A person cannot do as well for themselves if they have essentially chosen not to fight. What we mean by throwing yourself on the mercy of the court is not fight, but basically submit. I just don’t see that as being a good idea in most cases that I handle.

A Guilty Plea May Be Considered For An Insignificant Charge Like a Traffic Infraction But Never For More Serious Charges

If your case is a dinky little thing like a little speeding ticket or some traffic infraction or maybe some civil infraction, the consequences aren’t nearly as severe. For the cases I handle, the larger ones, the ones that can cause some real damage to you, those are the ones that you shouldn’t throw yourself on the mercy of the court. Having said that, if a person takes a good look at their case and decides that they would like to do that, they should only do it after they’ve taken a look at the facts. That means contacting counsel, having an attorney talk it through with them, come up with their options, their prospects, and then, after knowing those things, then make a choice about throwing themselves on the mercy of the court.