Burglary, Robbery and Theft Charges in Louisiana

EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE FOR BURGLARY, ROBBERY AND THEFT CHARGES IN LOUISIANA

Louisiana has numerous “theft” offenses as well as crimes involving burglary and robbery. Each offense comes with its own set of facts despite the fact that they often get used interchangeably. Burglary, robbery and theft are in fact quite different offenses and each carry unique charges.  An experienced Louisiana criminal defense can help you understand the differences as well as the possible defenses to each.

BURGLARY VS. ROBBERY IN LOUISIANA

Under Louisiana law, simple burglary is defined as the “is the unauthorized entering of any dwelling, vehicle, watercraft, or other structure, movable or immovable, or any cemetery, with the intent to commit a felony or any theft therein.” Simple robbery, on the other hand, is defined as “the taking of anything of value belonging to another from the person of another or that is in the immediate control of another, by use of force or intimidation, but not armed with a dangerous weapon.” Both can be aggravated or have other enhancing factors that increase the possible penalties.  In simple terms, burglary involves the breaking into your property while robbery involves theft of your person using force.  Robbery is considered a violent crime against another person because it involves the use of force.

THEFT OFFENSES IN LOUISIANA

Louisiana law defines theft crimes as “is the misappropriation or taking of anything of value which belongs to another, either without the consent” or by fraud. Theft can range in form of offense to include property, identity, services, or money that have been taken.  Examples of offenses under the umbrella of “theft crimes” include:

  • Identity theft
  • Retail theft or shoplifting
  • Theft of a motor vehicle
  • Theft of a firearm
  • Theft of timber
  • Theft of livestock
  • Possession of stolen things
  • Access device fraud

Theft offenses can occur in a wide variety of situations and involve a number of fact patterns.  While they typically occur in commercial businesses, they can also be used in a residence and can be tacked on to additional offenses such as burglary and robbery.

THEFT PUNISHMENT RANGES

Since the range of theft crimes is so large, Louisiana law breaks up theft punishments based on the value of the property stolen.  Certain items are classified based on the type of property stolen.

Value of PropertyChargePunishment
Less than $1,000Misdemeanor0-6 months in jail, fine up to $1,000
$1,000 – $4,999Felony0-5 years in jail, fine up to $3,000
$5,000 – $24,999Felony0-10 years, fine up to $10,000
$25,000 or moreFelony0-20 years, fine up to $50,000

Theft is an enhanceable offense in Louisiana meaning that a second or third conviction can carry increased penalties. In addition to any penalty imposed the defendant is also likely to be ordered to pay restitution. Additionally, victims of theft crimes can pursue civil charges against any a person on any theft charges to help reimburse the loss of their stolen items.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)

IS INTOXICATION A DEFENSE?

Technically it is a valid defense, but it might be difficult to prove. The act of taking someone else’s property raised the presumption that you did so intentionally, which reverses the burden of proof onto you. Your defense would be that, due to your intoxication, you had no criminal intent.

 

THE DOOR WAS UNLOCKED AND I USED NO FORCE TO ENTER. IS THIS A DEFENSE AGAINST A BURGLARY CHARGE?

No. It is not necessary to enter a home by force to commit burglary. All that is required is that you entered without authorization with the intention to commit a felony or a misdemeanor theft.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO DISPUTE THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF THE STOLEN ITEM TO RECEIVE A LESSER SENTENCE?

Yes, it is possible under certain circumstances. If it is possible, and if conviction seems likely, it is very important that you vigorously pursue this defense strategy, because in some cases a small increase in the assessed value of the item could add years to the maximum sentence.

I DIDN’T KNOW THE PROPERTY I POSSESSED WAS STOLEN. DO I HAVE A VALID DEFENSE?

Perhaps. Simply claiming that you didn’t know the item was stolen is unlikely to be persuasive absent further evidence, however, because anyone could say that. If you can show that you had no reason to believe the item was stolen, however, you might win an acquittal.

WHAT IS A PLEA BARGAIN?

Trials take time, and in many cases the prosecutor has a lot of other to deal with and is not certain of eventually winning a conviction in your case. Due to this, the prosecutor might allow you to plead guilty to a lesser charge (thereby avoiding a trial) in exchange for a recommendation to the judge to accept your plea. The judge is not obligated to accept the prosecutor’s recommendation.

THE POLICE SEIZED THE PHYSICAL EVIDENCE AGAINST ME WITHOUT A WARRANT. DO I HAVE A VALID DEFENSE?

It depends on whether or not the police acted under a valid exception to the warrant requirement. There are many exceptions to the warrant requirement, including:

  • You were on probation at the time you were searched
  • You were suspected of committing a felony and there was no time to obtain a warrant
  • The officer saw you commit the crime.
  • The evidence was in “plain view” from outside of your car or some other location

WILL I BE ACQUITTED IF THE POLICE FAILED TO READ ME MY RIGHTS?

Not automatically. If the police fail to read you your rights, nothing you say can be used as evidence against you, including a confession. If the prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence to win a conviction without relying on what you told the police, you could be acquitted. Other evidence may still be admissible against you.

DO I HAVE TO LEAVE THE SHOP WITH THE MERCHANDISE TO BE CONVICTED OF SHOPLIFTING?

No. Merely concealing the item by putting it into your pocket could be enough to result in a conviction for shoplifting.

BATON ROUGE THEFT DEFENSE LAWYERS ARE HERE TO HELP

If you have been charged with robbery, burglary, or any theft crime, it is important to contact a skilled theft attorney as soon as you are able.  Theft crimes can be difficult to sort out on your own and involve a number of different fact patterns and scenarios.  Multiple offenses may even be charged together if they are all part of the overall same criminal act.  Contact Rusty Messer & Associates today and speak with one of our experienced Baton Rouge criminal defense lawyers to discuss the best strategy to tackle your case. Call (225) 963-9638 today!

CONTACT A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER TODAY

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, call us today to schedule a consultation where we can discuss the case and your rights. Being charged with a crime is a serious matter that can have life long implications. We have handled thousands of criminal cases and regularly handle cases in both state and federal courts as well as in juvenile courts. Let us fight to protect your rights. 

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