Florida

A Florida Prosecutor Is Accused of Shoplifting From Publix

Legal repercussions apply to everyone, even state attorneys who make 'honest mistakes.'

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|||TasFoto/Dreamstime.com
TasFoto/Dreamstime.com

A recent theft at a Florida Publix is the latest reminder that those tasked with upholding the law are not above breaking it—even unintentionally.

Security camera footage shows Stacey Honowitz, an assistant state attorney for Broward County, placing $42.93 worth of cosmetics in her purse while shopping at a Publix in Aventura. Security personnel stopped Honowitz in the store and called the police.

Honowitz said she made an "honest mistake." Her lawyer, Jayne Weintraub, argued that she placed the items in her purse and merely forgot to pay. She initially placed the items in her purse, Weintraub continued, so they would not fall through the shopping cart's cracks. The surveillance footage also shows Honowitz paying $120 for groceries and purchasing a lottery ticket, which required her to reach in her purse to get her payment methods. Weintraub maintains that her demeanor on the video supports the claim that she forgot to pay for the items.

According to Honowitz's personal website, she has been a prosecutor for 30 years and supervises the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit at the Florida State Attorney's office. Records indicate that she makes $108,000 a year.

Honowitz has since been charged with misdemeanor theft and was suspended pending administrative review. Civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimated that the average working professional unknowingly commits three felonies on average per day due to vague regulations and the vast number of criminal statutes. He probably wasn't talking about stealing from a grocery store, but Honowitz says that's not what she was doing.

If Honowitz—a person trained in the fine art of knowing the law and punishing people who break it—can make an "honest mistake," then it is very possible that we all can and will. And should Honowitz be granted mercy and allowed to keep her job, then perhaps the justice system's usual response to small acts of theft (intentional or not) is disproprionately harsh. It wasn't that long ago, after all, that Jerry Williams was famously sentenced to 25 years in prison for stealing a slice of pizza.

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  1. I’m sure she’s accepted the “honest mistake” defense numerous times in the past when it comes to Defendant’s she’s dealt with.

    But seriously – she’s full of shit. And crimes involving theft/dishonesty are supposed to be BIG no no’s for attorneys. Though she’s a prosecutor, so I’m sure the State Bar will be kinder to her than some other schmuck accused of what she’s doing…

    1. Its a crime of dishonesty, so she should be disbarred.

      Maybe someday these crooked lawyers will stop making so hard for other people who want to become attorneys to do so and give people second chances for minor crimes without having to pay thousands on court fees.

      A great example of this would be to allow first time shoplifters to pay for the item(s) and get off with a warning. Any future offenses of shoplifting could use this event as a prior violation of theft laws.

  2. It’d be interesting to know how many shoplifters she’s heard the same line from, but prosecuted anyway.

  3. A couple weeks ago I was walking around Cabela’s with my daughter, looking at all the stuffed animals. I had picked up a box of ammo to buy, and as we were leaning against the railing I absent mindedly put it into my pocket to free my hand. A moment later I realized that that could get me accused of theft and I pulled it out and continued to carry it.

    What this woman says might indeed be true, but I doubt it would stop her from prosecuting someone else who did the same thing. She should be held to the same standards that she uses on others.

    1. Its not really theft until you steal something.

      ‘Hiding’ something is one example of that but the best example is walking out of a store without paying.

      I have forgotten to pay for bottled water on the bottom of my cart at the grocery store. As I was packing it into my vehicle, I realized my mistake and went back in and paid for the waters.

      1. A couple of years ago I put a candy bar into my cart at WalMart. When I got to the checkout counter, it fell down and I didn’t see it. When putting my purchases in the cart, I found the candy bar and went back to pay for it.

        When I walked in and got in line, the woman ahead of me (about 15 years younger than me) looked surprised that I didn’t go get anything to buy, so I showed her the candy bar and told her what I had done. When she got to the head of the line, she grabbed the candy bar from my hand, paid for it, and handed it back to me.

  4. Dig around that purse for some karma.

  5. >> due to vague regulations and the vast number of criminal statutes

    “don’t use purse as shopping basket” likely clear, valid statute

  6. And should Honowitz be granted mercy and allowed to keep her job, then perhaps the justice system’s usual response to small acts of theft (intentional or not) is disproprionately harsh. It wasn’t that long ago, after all, that Jerry Williams was famously sentenced to 25 years in prison for stealing a slice of pizza.

    Don’t worry, she’ll feel like the prison system is being much harder on her because she’s a woman.

  7. It was all just a misunderstanding. She thought she was stealing from the Public. (asset forfeiture, etc)

    1. +1

  8. Legal repercussions apply to everyone, even state attorneys who make ‘honest mistakes.’

    There are 3-year old children who would guffaw at a load of horseshit that size. “Legal repercussions” are for the little people and everybody knows it.

  9. I am sure that she never prosecuted someone for something that should have been dropped or reduced.

    Fuck her. Prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

    Under Rule of Law, everyone is subject to the same laws. If you dont like it, dont have so many laws.

  10. Honowitz said she made an “honest mistake.” Her lawyer, Jayne Weintraub, argued that she placed the items in her purse and merely forgot to pay.

    Give her a pass, it’s not like she walked into the wrong house and killed the legal owners or anything.

  11. Jerry Williams was NOT sentenced to 25 years in prison for stealing a slice of pizza. He was sentenced for a lifetime of crime, great and small.

    Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

    In the instant case, eh, it’s a wobbler. She needs to be punished, but it’s a first-time, minor offense, and there is the possibility that she was negligent rather than malicious, so misdemeanor. A few weekends picking up trash, and a suspension at work.

  12. This lady has my sympathy because I’ve almost done the same thing myself. Little stuff falls through the holes in the shopping cart and I’ve caught myself starting to put things in my pocket so I don’t have to chase it around but I’ve always stopped myself from doing so. But as age and senility descend upon me I can see myself in this predicament. Sadly, if she gets a pass on this it will just be more evidence of a rigged system.

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