Homeless Pennsylvania man was jailed for failing to pay $43 cents for a soda

Xin Xin

person drinking soda dramatization onlyPhoto by Shane on Unsplash

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. 
The man in question is Joseph Sobolewski who may soon face the possibility of up to seven years in prison.
In Pennsylvania the law says;
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.
Luckily for him, his lawyer was able to ask the court to modify the $50,000 cash bond for him to be out on bail before his trial starts, to unsecured but the fact remains that the bond amount is $50,000 and for a homeless person that alone will ensure that he will spend prison time even before a trial is set.
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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