Dura lex sed lex, the law may be harsh, but it is the law.
And a Pennsylvania man faces time in prison for failing to pay $0.43 for a soda. It happened when the man went inside a store, where there is a sign that goes;
2 for $3
Thinking if he only gets one, that will cost him $1.50 plus taxes, he gets one bottle, and left the $2, he could even have thought he is leaving the store some tip as he didn't ask for change. When the store clerk explains that one bottle would cost $2.29 plus taxes, for a total of $2.43, he refuses to pay , and off he went.
Store reports it to the police, the man got arrested.
If this was his first offense, he would likely end up with a warning or a fine, but since this is his 3rd offense, he is now charged a felony that could sentence the homeless man to a jail term.
Three-strikes law: The state mandates a sentence of at least 25 years when an offender has previously been convicted of two or more crimes of violence arising from separate transactions.
Under Pennsylvania law, a first charge of retail theft where the value of the items stolen is less than $150 is graded as a summary offense, the same as a speeding ticket.
A second offense is a misdemeanor.
Third and subsequent offenses, no matter the amount, are all graded as a third-degree felonies, which is the same charge for items valued at more than $1,000. Other crimes that count as a third-degree felony are involuntary manslaughter, institutional sexual assault and carrying a firearm without a license.
It’s a vestige of a failed thought in the criminal code, No one researches state laws before stealing a tube of toothpaste to learn that a third conviction is a felony, and reconsiders.
“It doesn’t operate as a deterrent,”
“It just operates as a problem. When a person reaches sobriety, now because they have a felony, it’s difficult to move forward.”
Counting the theft of something as small as a tube of toothpaste is inhumane, Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny County, said.
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