A homeless man faces up to seven years in prison after failing to pay 43 cents for a bottle of Mountain Dew in Pennsylvania last month.
PennLive reports that Joseph Sobolewski, 38, walked into a Perry County convenience store in August to purchase a bottle of soda. The Mountain Dew’s advertised price was two for $ 3. Sobolewski paid $ 2 for a bottle and walked out. However, the price of a single bottle was $ 2.29 plus tax, meaning it was short on 43 cents.
The publication added that the store called police on Sobolewski, who was arrested and charged with a felony under the state’s “three-stroke law” for retail theft. He was convicted over a decade ago for theft and in 2011 for theft of a pair of shoes.
The law does not take into account the value of the object in the third charge of theft.
A criminal record shows that Sobolewski was arrested while awaiting trial because he was unable to post a $ 50,000 cash bond. The bond was later changed to be “unsecured” after an appeal from his public defender, meaning that Sobolewski was able to be released without giving any money to the court, although the amount remains the same.
PennLive noted that it is not clear whether the charge will stand – the law requires proof that the theft was an intentional crime rather than a misunderstanding of the full value of an item.
A first retail theft offense is a misdemeanor, similar to a speeding ticket, a second offense is a misdemeanor, and subsequent infractions are classified as third degree felonies. Pennsylvania’s The Sentinel newspaper notes that other third-degree crimes include manslaughter, institutional sexual assault, and unlicensed firearm carrying.
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