Jacobia Grimes
KATC 

A man is facing 20 years to life in prison after being accused of stealing $31 worth of candy bars from a New Orleans Dollar General store in December, the New Orleans Advocate reports.

On Thursday, 34-year-old Jacobia Grimes appeared in court for an arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

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According to the Advocate, Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich mused out loud, “Isn’t this a little over the top?” regarding the “multiple bill” threat that will leave little to the discretion of a judge. 

According to the report, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office decided to charge Grimes under a statute that makes the alleged candy theft a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. The statute is meant for people who have been convicted of “theft of goods” at least twice before. 

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Grimes, the Advocate reports, has five prior theft convictions, which categorizes him as a “quad” offender under the state’s habitual-offender law, thus making him eligible for 20 years to life behind bars if convicted. 

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“It’s not even funny,” the judge said. “Twenty years to life for a Snickers bar, or two or three or four.”

Grimes’ attorneys, Miles Swanson and Michael Kennedy, said that his prior convictions, occurring 2001-2010, were for similar shoplifting stints. All of the thefts involved less than $500 worth of items. Swanson argued that Grimes could have been charged under a different statute with a state misdemeanor. 

“I just think it points to the absurdity of the multiple-billing statute. They’re spending their time to lock someone up for years over $31 worth of candy. It’s ridiculous,” Swanson said.

“It’s unconscionably excessive to threaten someone with 20 years to life for candy,” Kennedy added.

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Read more at the New Orleans Advocate