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Homeless Pennsylvania Man Faces 7 Years In Prison Over 43 Cent Soda Theft

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 Joseph Sobolewski, 38, went into a convenience store in Perry County in August to buy a bottle of soda. The advertised price of the Mountain Dew was two for $3. Sobolewski paid $2 for one bottle and walked out. The price for a single bottle, however, was $2.29 plus tax, meaning he was 43 cents short.

The publication added that the store called the police on Sobolewski, who was arrested and charged with a felony under the state’s “three strikes law” for retail theft. He had been convicted more than a decade ago for a theft and in 2011 for stealing a pair of shoes.

The law doesn’t take into account the value of the item in the third theft charge.

A criminal docket shows Sobolewski was arrested as he awaited trial because he was unable to post a $50,000 cash bond. The bond was later modified to be “unsecured” after an appeal by his public defender, meaning Sobolewski was able to be released without giving money to the court, although the amount remains the same.

PennLive noted that it’s unclear if the charge will hold — the law requires proof that the theft was an intentional crime rather than a misunderstanding over the full value of an item.

A first retail theft offense is a summary, akin to a speeding ticket, a second offense is a misdemeanor and subsequent offenses are classified as third-degree felonies. Pennsylvania’s The Sentinel newspaper notes other third-degree felonies include involuntary manslaughter, institutional sexual assault and carrying a gun without a license.

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