Costa Rica News – The Costa Rica legal system is quite confusing. Petty theft is a crime that usually goes unpunished due to the fact that it usually costs more in legal fees than the value of the items stolen.
What should be the appropriate punishment for trying to steal 12 cans of peas? They are worth 370 colones each (about $0.75 or a total of about $9 for the merchandise in question). This is not a math problem, but an actual situation that landed a 30 year old man in jail.
The event took place on August 22 and the hearing will be on Tuesday. The judiciary process costs 6 million colones and the 42 days he’s been detained cost another million colones. All over 12 cans of peas worth 370 each.
Since March 2009, the Legislature has decided to punish all thefts with imprisonment, no matter how small. However, the man is in jail with those who committed murder. He says he wanted God to take his life when he arrived at the jail. In addition to the punishment being disproportionate to the crime, this law is putting too much pressure on the criminal justice system which is over-saturated already.
Walmart is sending three people a day to court for theft in one of their 216 stores. There are ways to settle out of court and without jail time, such as offering to repair damage or do community service.
Walmart doesn’t accept these deals, however, costing the state a lot by refusing to reach alternative solutions.
Leave it to a US based company to waste money in Costa Rica to try to set an example…..