In Louisiana, theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the item that was allegedly stolen. There are stark differences between the potential consequences of a misdemeanor theft charge and a charge of felony theft, including a period of incarceration that can be far lengthier for a felony conviction.
If you’ve been charged with felony theft, an important key to protecting your freedom, your reputation, and avoiding the many consequences of a higher-level crime is to hire an experienced attorney who can help you develop a defense strategy based on the unique circumstances of your situation. However, how do you know that the charge you’re facing is a felony? Here is a look at when a theft charge in Louisiana becomes a felony and the potential consequences of this charge.
The Different Types of Felony Theft Charges
Theft is defined in Louisiana law as the misappropriation or taking of anything of value which belongs to another. There are a number of different types of theft, including:
- Auto theft
- Receiving any type of service under threat, intimidation, or without paying for the services that were provided.
- Accepting or receiving property that the receiver knows was stolen by someone else
- Utility theft
As noted, the value of the property that is being stolen is one of the main determinants as to whether the alleged crime will be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Other considerations include whether the accused has been convicted in the past. Prior convictions are commonly deemed “aggravating factors” by prosecutors and used to justify felony charges.
When Theft Can Be Charged as a Felony
When the value of an item that an individual has been accused of stealing in Louisiana is valued at over $1,000, the crime can be charged as a felony. Additionally, when a person is charged with stealing an item valued at less than $1,000 who has been convicted of a theft charge in the past can also face a felony due to the aggravating factor of past offenses.
On the opposite side, first offenders who are accused of stealing an item valued at more than $1,000 often have more of an opportunity to negotiate a plea deal in which they accept lighter penalties or a lesser charge. However, whether the felony theft charge is the accused’s first crime or they have faced past convictions, having an attorney remains a vital component in any theft defense strategy.
The Potential Consequences of Felony Theft
The potential consequences of a felony theft conviction in Louisiana are severe. For those accused of taking property valued at over $1,000 but less than $5,000, there is a period of incarceration of up to five years and a fine of up to $3,000. For defendants who have been charged with theft of an item valued between $5,000 and $25,000, there is a potential of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Those suspected of theft of an item valued at $25,000 or more face prison for up to 20 years, and up to $50,000 in fines.
In addition to potential consequences imposed through the state’s criminal justice system, those who are convicted of felony theft face a number of social consequences as well due to the appearance of the conviction on background checks. Having a felony conviction show up on background checks can significantly impact the defendant’s ability to obtain a job, get into college, or even obtain housing.
Felony Theft Charge in Louisiana? John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm Can Help
The experienced legal team at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm understands how completely overwhelming it can be to face a felony theft charge. Not only are defendants in this type of case facing incarceration and large fines upon conviction, but they also face many other impacts that will impair their ability to move forward from the conviction. Our attorneys are problem-solvers, looking for solutions that are most favorable for our clients, whether it means challenging the evidence that the prosecution has gathered against them, negotiating a deal, or even taking the case before a judge or jury.
We are able to handle a large variety of cases, and a number of factors. Let an attorney from John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm help you understand your legal options and begin developing a defense strategy for your case. For a free consultation, contact us online or by calling (318) 377-1555.