A New Orleans man who allegedly stole $31 worth of candy from a Dollar General store in December is facing 20 years to life behind bars if convicted.
Jacobia Grimes appeared in court for an arraignment Thursday and pleaded not guilty to the charges. But because he has five prior theft convictions, he’s categorized as a “quad” offender and under the state’s habitual-offender law, which makes the alleged candy theft a felony, the 34-year-old man could be locked up for the rest of his life.
“Isn’t this a little over the top?” said Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich about the “multiple bill” threat.
The office of Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro charged Grimes under the statute meant for people who have been convicted of “theft of goods” at least twice before.
“It’s not even funny,” Judge Zibilich said. “Twenty years to life for a Snickers bar, or two or three or four.”
Grimes's prior convictions between 2001 and 2010 all involved thefts of less than $500 worth of items. His attorneys, Miles Swanson and Michael Kennedy, echoed the judge’s sentiments.
Kennedy described the possibility of serving 20 years to life for stealing candy as “unconscionably excessive.”
“I just think it points to the absurdity of the multiple-billing statute,” Swanson added. “They’re spending their time to lock someone up for years over $31 worth of candy. It’s ridiculous.”
(Photo: Jacobia Grimes via Facebook)