Homeless man faces 7 years in prison over theft of 43 cent drink

Homeless man faces 7 years in prison over theft of 43 cent drink

A homeless man in Pennsylvania is facing the prospect of 7 years in prison for failing to pay 43 cents for a bottle of Mountain Dew.

38-year-old Joseph Sobolewski was at a convenience store in Perry County in August when he put $2 on the counter for a bottle of Mountain Dew that was advertised as two bottles for $3 and walked out.

However, apparently unbeknownst to Sobolewski, the price for a single bottle of the beverage was $2.29 plus tax, meaning he was 43 cents short of the fee, reports PennLive.

The police were called by the store who arrested Sobolewski and charged the homeless man under the state’s “three strikes law” for retail theft.

Over a decade ago, Sobolewski was reportedly arrested for a theft and again in 2011 for stealing some shoes.

Under the three strikes law, the value of the third theft is not taken into account, meaning Sobolewski faces a potential jail sentence over a debt of 43 cents.

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Sobolewski’s bail was initially posted at $50,000 but, on appeal by his public defender, was later changed to “unsecured” meaning he was able to be released without providing the money to the court.

It is unclear if the charges will remain as there needs to be proof that he intended to commit a crime, as opposed to it being a genuine mistake or misunderstanding.

In Pennsylvania, a felony conviction can result from the three strikes law, which some say disproportionately affects those living in poverty, those with mental health issues and those experiencing addiction.

Nyssa Taylor, criminal justice policy counsel for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told York Daily Record: “It’s unnecessary. This isn’t benefiting public safety. People do not need to be incarcerated for seven years from taking small amounts from stores.”

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