Stealing can both be a felony and a misdemeanor offense in Louisiana. Certain things like the value of the stolen item or property and the number of times the offender has been convicted of stealing plays a huge role in determining how severe the consequent penalty would be. Although laws do commonly have a bit of difference across the United States, there seems to be a form of general agreement when it comes to stealing and how severe the penalty can be. However, some states are increasing the number of goods that must be involved to consider a particular theft case a felony.
In Louisiana, stealing is defined as an act of taking away from someone what belongs to them without their approval, whether directly or through a fraudulent means. This means that the crime of stealing can be committed on goods, items, or properties that are either on the victim or kept in a place. In as much as the intention to keep it away from the actual owner is detected or perceived, then it definitely counts as stealing.
When accused of an offense like stealing that can easily be a felony, it will take only the intervention of a professional defense lawyer who fully understands the law for you to stand a chance against the charges in court, because little factors that may seem not to matter can actually be what would lead you to jail. But with the help of a good defense lawyer like Attorney Carl Barkemeyer, those little factors can be used in your favor.
How stealing is determined as a felony: factors considered
A felony is an offense that leads to very severe penalties, including hard labor. States have different ways of determining whether a particular act of stealing is worthy of being considered a felony. So, to make sentencing easier, stealing has been categorized into three groups. They are…
- Petty theft
- Grand theft
- Federal grand theft
Mostly, stealing offenses considered as a felony fall under the second group: grand theft. But nonetheless, some stealing offenses that fall under the grand theft group are actually misdemeanor offenses that are considered to be a felony due to some significant factors. Part of the reasons why this is so is because if someone continues to commit a misdemeanor stealing, the penalties to be faced will be only limited to the severity of the crime they commit. It is believed that someone who has been convicted of a stealing offense for quite a few numbers of time is already deserving of a penalty within the felony bracket. Now, let’s take a look at how stealing can become a felony:
- Stealing offense penalization based on property value
This is the general and direct way a stealing offense can be considered a felony across all states. However, the monetary value of the goods, item, or property involved is the biggest factor in determining whether it can be considered a felony, and also what brings about differences in law across all states.
For the offense to be a felony, the monetary value must typically be between $500 – $1000, as established by state law. Any stealing offense that involves goods, items, property or cash lower than $500 in value is a misdemeanor. But anyone higher than $500 is a felony. This is the range for all states.
In Louisiana, stealing is considered a felony in Louisiana when the monetary value exceeds $1000. The felony limit used to be $750, but a recent law amendment has led to an increase.
- Stealing offense penalization based on the category of items or property stolen
Not only must the item or property involved have a monetary value that is up to $1000 for the offense to be regarded as a felony. Sometimes, it just doesn’t matter. Items or properties like firearms, motorboats, and cars have no monetary limit. So, irrespective of the amount of dollars they are valued at, once any of the properties in this category are involved, it is instantly regarded as a felony.
If for example a firearm is stolen in Louisiana, a state that has a minimum amount of $1000 for a felony theft offense, the monetary value of the firearm won’t be considered. In as much as it falls in this category of felony theft items, it is instantly considered a felony.
- Stealing offense penalization based on record
In many states, stealing offenses can be considered a felony based on the record of the offender. Even if the monetary value of the item or property stolen is not up to $1000, the offense can still be charged as a felony, provided there’s an existing theft offense.
According to the law in Louisiana, if you’ve been previously convicted of a stealing offense twice, the third offense would be charged as a felony, irrespective of whether it is actually a misdemeanor or not.
Penalties for stealing in Louisiana
The penalties for stealing at Walmart or anywhere else in Louisiana are very severe, most especially when it becomes a felony. The consequences include thousands of dollar fines and prison sentences that can last for years. Here’s a summary of the penalties:
- For items valued at $25,000 or more, the offender can get a maximum fine and imprisonment of $50,000 and 20 years, respectively (including hard labor).
- For items valued at $5,000 or more, but less than $25,000, the offender can get a maximum fine and imprisonment of $10,000 and 10 years, respectively (with or without hard labor).
- For items valued at $1,000 or more, but less than $5,000, the offender can get a maximum fine and imprisonment of $3,000 and 5 years, respectively (with or without hard labor).
- For items valued at less than $1,000, the offender can get a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment. This is a misdemeanor. However, if the offender has already been convicted of stealing two or three times prior to the current offense, the penalty can be higher because it will be regarded as a felony. In this case, the offender can get a maximum fine and imprisonment of $2,000 and 2 years, respectively (with or without hard labor).
The penalty that a person convicted of stealing will face goes behind the imprisonment and fine. It could lead to the destruction of your career because it will be a taint on your record. Carl Barkemeyer is a criminal defense attorney who can help you win your case in court or at least fight for the reduction of the penalty. Having succeeded in defending the case of many of his clients over the years, you could be part of his success stories. See here for more information on theft in Louisiana.