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How does Louisiana treat theft-related offenses?

There is a somewhat unfortunate misconception among the general public concerning theft-related offenses. Specifically, many people mistakenly believe that these crimes are somehow victimless and, as such, aren't punished too severely by state law.

The reality, however, is that whether committed out of desperation, peer pressure or reasons known only to the individual, the law here in Louisiana calls for rather harsh penalties for those convicted of theft-related offenses.

How does Louisiana define theft?

State law essentially defines theft as the taking of anything of value that belongs to another 1) without securing their consent, or 2) by fraudulent practices or conduct. A conviction cannot be secured, however, absent an showing that a defendant acted with the intent to permanently deprive the person/entity of the object of the taking.

Are there any specific theft laws?

Yes, there are a fair number of specific theft laws that relate to the taking of certain items, including motor vehicles, firearms and goods (i.e., shoplifting), to name only a few.

How are theft offenses classified in Louisiana?

The Bayou State is similar to other states in that the punishment it assigns for convictions for theft-related offenses is directly proportional to the amount of the property taken, meaning the higher the value of the property, the greater the punishment.

Where it differs, however, is that it does not assign any particular classification to theft offenses, such as Class 1, 2, 3 or Class A, B, C. Indeed, all theft-related offenses are technically treated as felonies, which are defined as "any crime for which an offender may be sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor."

What is the punishment for theft-related offenses?

As mentioned above, the punishment handed down for a theft conviction depends upon the dollar amount assigned to the property taken:

  • If the property in question is worth $25,000 or more, the individual will be sentenced to a minimum of five years, but no more than 20 years, and/or a fine of no more than $50,000.
  • If the property in question is worth $5,000 or more, but less than $25,000, the individual will be sentenced to no more than 10 years, and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
  • If the property in question is worth $750 or more, but less than $5,000, the individual will be sentenced to no more than five years, and/or a fine of no more than $3,000.
  • If the property in question is worth less than $750, the individual will be sentenced to no more than six months, and/or a fine of no more than $1,000; this changes to no more than two years and/or a fine of $2,000 if the defendant has two or more prior convictions.

Here's hoping the foregoing information has helped debunk some misconceptions concerning theft. In the event you find yourself under investigation or facing charges for this crime, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional, as the stakes are simply too high.

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