Due to a legal technicality that upgrades repeat shoplifting offenders to felons, a New Orleans man faces a stiff sentence of 20 years to life for stealing $31 worth of candy.
Jacobia Grimes, 34, was spotted in a Dollar General store stuffing his pockets full of candy bars, and since he had served two years for petty larceny five times before, the crime qualifies Grimes as a “habitual offender” and comes with a likely prison sentence of 20 years to life, according to the Washington Times.
Grimes pleaded not guilty last week, which was a change from his previous court appearances between 2001 and 2010.
“Isn’t this a little over the top?” Judge Franz Zibilich was quoted as saying during the trial. “It’s not even funny. Twenty years to life for a Snickers bar, or two or three or four.”
The habitual offender bill allows almost no discretion for the judge and will almost certainly mean a harsh sentence for Grimes, without plea bargaining.
Grimes’ attorneys, Miles Swanson and Michael Kennedy have called the proposed punishment, “ridiculous” and that it is “unconscionably excessive to threaten someone with 20 years to life for candy.”
There is no word yet on whether Grimes’ attorneys would be able to counter-sue with consideration to “cruel and unusual punishment” laws in the United States.