Answer: it can be both. The law changes frequently regarding this issue. In fact, the law changed on August 1, 2014. See the new penalties below.
value of the alleged stolen item(s) Penalty
$25,000 or more 0-20 years in prison
$5000 - less than $25,000 0-10
$1000 - less than $5000 0-5
less than $1000 0-6 months
(1) Whoever commits the crime of theft when the misappropriation or taking amounts to a value of twenty-five thousand dollars or more shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not more than twenty years, or may be fined not more than fifty thousand dollars, or both.
(2) When the misappropriation or taking amounts to a value of five thousand dollars or more, but less than a value of twenty-five thousand dollars, the offender shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than ten years, or may be fined not more than ten thousand dollars, or both.
(3) When the misappropriation or taking amounts to a value of one thousand dollars or more, but less than a value of five thousand dollars, the offender shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than five years, or may be fined not more than three thousand dollars, or both.
(4) When the misappropriation or taking amounts to less than a value of one thousand dollars, the offender shall be imprisoned for not more than six months, or may be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or both. If the offender in such cases has been convicted of theft two or more times previously, upon any subsequent conviction he shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than two years, or may be fined not more than two thousand dollars, or both.
Theft is a crime of taking another person's property with the intention to permanently deprive them of its possession. Theft occurs when you take another person's valuable property (whether money or item) without the person's permission or through fraudulent acts. Any action that deprives another person of possession of their property or money is known as theft. Theft can be called several names, including burglary, embezzlement, shoplifting, larceny, robbery, or looting.
Examples of theft include paying for your purchase at a store with a bad check, an employee who embezzled money from a company, and many others. Theft penalties and sentences can range from the severity of the case in addition to other factors. In Louisiana, the penalties of theft are based on the dollar value of the subject of theft (property).
Theft can either be punished as a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony crime is simply a crime with more gravity and severity compared to a misdemeanor. A felony crime is severe; thus, it attracts harsher consequences and carries a death sentence or incarceration. All theft offenses can be charged as a felony in Louisiana, even petty theft, depending on the dollar value of the property that was lifted.
Any time a person commits theft and deprives another person the possession their property, the value of the property is estimated and is used to determine if the crime is a felony or misdemeanor. Whether theft is punished as a felony or misdemeanor is determined by the dollar value of the property stolen. Theft can be classified as petty theft, grand theft, and federal grand theft, depending on the amount stolen.
Petty theft involves stealing a low-value property, thus, resulting into petty charges and penalties. $500 is the specific dollar figure for petty theft and it attracts a misdemeanor charge with fines and a relatively short jail term of up to 6 months. Therefore, shoplifting or taking the property of less than $500 will incur misdemeanor theft penalties.
Grand theft, on the other hand, involves the stealing of more valuable property. It may be charged as a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the theft, but the value of the stolen item especially. Theft of more than $500, but not up to $1,500 will incur a sentence of imprisonment of up to 5 years or a fine of over $2,000 or both.
For theft subject valued at $1,500 or more, the offender is incarcerated for up to 10 years and made to pay a fine of up to $3,000 or both.
When a person is arrested for theft, they are expected to serve the penalties above, based on the value of the property stolen. In addition to that, if a person steals goods from a store, they are held liable to the store owner or good owner for damages including the retail value of the goods or merchandise stolen if not retrieved in a sellable state. Also, the offender is made to pay an additional penalty between $50 to $500.
A prior conviction is one of the major aggravating factors for a theft charge. Theft of property worth less than $500 receives the lightest theft penalty in Louisiana. However, if the offender has 2 or more prior theft convictions, they are punished more harshly. The offender may have to serve up to 2 years imprisonment instead of the typical 0- 6 months imprisonment, pay a fine of up to $2,000 instead of the typical fine of $1,000 for the theft of a property valued at less than $500.
Prior convictions on specific types of theft also attract more severe penalties. For example, a theft offense committed with a firearm, without prior conviction gets a prison sentence between 2 to 10 years and a payable fine of up to $2,000. However, if on a prior conviction for the same offense, the offender receives a sentence between 5 to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000.
Theft offenses are mostly classified as moral turpitude. A criminal history showing a theft record or moral turpitude bears significant consequences in the life of the offender. A crime history poses significant difficulties in an ex-convict's ability to gain employment. You would often find companies making a thorough background check on anyone they are looking to employ. If a criminal charge or moral turpitude comes up on your background check, then they would not want to hire you.
A former offender may also face residence difficulties as most landlords would never give out their house to someone with a criminal history. Other consequences include limited opportunities to education and immigration problems.
There is no overlooking when it comes to theft charges. Even if your offense is as small as stealing a candy bar, it can have a significant impact on your life. If you are charged with theft, the right thing to do is to contact a criminal defense attorney who will fight to ensure that you get the best possible outcome on your case. Talking to an attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Theft is a serious criminal charge, no matter the value of the object or amount of money stolen.
Carl Barkemeyer is a criminal defense attorney in Louisiana, he seeks to give his client the representation they need to make a difference in their case. Carl Barkemeyer collects and evaluates evidence and devices a line of defense for you. He is skilled and experienced at defending theft cases, he sure knows how to handle yours. Make a difference in your theft case by talking to Attorney Carl Barkemeyer. You can reach Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 225-964-6720.
Call Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney at (225) 964-6720 if you need a theft defense lawyer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana or surrounding areas.