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The next time you're at a McDonald's with a self-serve soda fountain and want to sneak a sugary beverage into your water cup, remember this man. Then ask yourself if stealing soda is worth a felony charge.
It's not by the way. At least to everyone, but Mark Abaire. The 52-year-old entered a McDonald's in East Naples, Florida and asked for a free cup of water. But he allegedly had more sinister plans in mind when he filled the cup with soda instead. A manager confronted him outside and subsequently called the police, who arrested him.
Abaire now faces a felony theft charge for his actions. How is this possible for just a $1 soda?
Despite the state's questionable track history with rational thought, this isn't the result of wacky Floridians. This is a result of Abaire's prior convictions.
Most states have laws that allow courts to increase the severity of a person's punishment on the basis of criminal history. Florida is no different.
Under the Sunshine State's law, petty theft of anything valued under $300 is normally punishable as a misdemeanor. Depending on the degree, this can land a person 60 days up to a year in jail.
On the other hand, if you have two or more prior petty theft convictions on your record, the offense becomes a third degree felony.
Abaire falls into the latter case.
Now because of his priors, his $1 sugar water theft could land him up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He also faces misdemeanor counts for trespassing and disorderly intoxication. Abaire allegedly smelled like booze at the time, according to police.
So remember folks, the lesson here is stealing soda isn't worth a felony charge.