The coronavirus pandemic led to an unprecedented shutdown in most states, including Louisiana, as residents were ordered to stay at home and avoid getting into contact with others to help slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. Businesses were forced to close and workers lost their jobs.
There was another effect from the Stay At Home orders that have become a clear trend: a sharp drop in crime.
That trend surprised many in the state since Louisiana’s crime rate has long been above the national average, including for violent crimes. In 2018, Louisiana experienced the highest per capita murder rate among all 50 states for the 30th consecutive year, according to The 2018 FBI Uniform Crime Report. Now, the question is whether this trend will last, as states start lifting Stay At Home orders.
Despite the Stay At Home orders, police are still making arrests in Louisiana. If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s best to quickly seek the advice of an experienced and competent criminal defense attorney.
Why is Crime Falling in Louisiana’s Big Cities?
Coronavirus was first found in Louisiana on March 9, and less than two weeks later Gov. John Bel Edward issued a mandatory Stay At Home order for the state, asking non-essential workers to remain home and follow social distancing guidelines. That order was lifted on May 15 and many businesses have been allowed to reopen at a limited capacity.
Since Louisiana has been one of the hardest-hit states, there was considerable concern among residents about how easily the virus could spread. The Stay At Home order clearly had an impact on crime rates, since even those inclined to commit crimes were staying indoors to avoid getting sick.
By mid-April, the number of New Orleans residents calling 911 had plummeted, and crime reports were falling in major categories, including:
- and auto burglaries.
That happened in the weeks after New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued her own strict stay-at-home directive.
A review of 911 calls by the city’s newspaper, The Advocate, found that in this period:
- Crimes against persons fell 21% compared to the daily average
- Crimes involving property, down 30%
- Gun homicides, down 58%
- Armed robberies, down 29%
- Carjackings, down 54%
- Auto burglaries, down 34%
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, told The Advocate that the reason for the drop in crime seems obvious:
“The logical reason would be because people are staying home. There’s going to be less opportunities for robberies and crimes of violence because people are staying indoors.”
It wasn’t just New Orleans. Property crimes like burglaries also dropped significantly in Baton Rouge with more people working from home.
Will Crime Remain Low Once Stay At Home Orders Get Lifted?
Criminologists say there are reasons to be concerned about those crime rates staying low. One worry is joblessness. With so many businesses forced to shut down, Louisiana’s unemployment rate has soared to 14.5%, up from 4.5% in April 2019. Top industries like leisure and hospitality suffered significant job losses. With tens of thousands of New Orleans residents having lost their jobs, there are concerns about crime bouncing back as it did, often at alarming rates, in the years after Hurricane Katrina struck the state in 2005.
In New Orleans, even as some crimes were down, others have gone up, including business burglaries and shoplifting.
Criminal justice experts have also warned about a possible surge in domestic violence with families stuck at home and victims being trapped with their abuser.
What Happens if You Get Arrested During COVID-19?
Social distancing measures have impacted Louisiana’s courts, which are handling fewer cases, as judges conduct hearings virtually. And Louisiana’s jails have been impacted, with a growing number of inmates testing positive for COVID-19. That’s why anyone who does get arrested during this pandemic should immediately contact an attorney to help keep them out of jail and the unhealthy conditions there.
Law offices have remained open as an essential business in Louisiana, and a competent criminal defense attorney can become an invaluable tool in these unique times.
Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Louisiana
If someone you know is in prison and at risk of getting ill from COVID-19, it’s important to get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side who can advocate on their behalf. In Louisiana, a top source for criminal defense attorneys is the John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm. We have more than 25 years of experience representing ordinary citizens just like you and want to help you get your life back on the right track. It’s our mission to give you the most personalized experience possible and help you have your voice heard.
Eric Johnson is respected throughout Louisiana and is known for providing solid representation that wins cases. To schedule a free consultation regarding your case, call our office at 318-377-1555 or contact us online today. We’re here to represent you!