Shoplifting Charges in Louisiana

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Louisiana. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

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Shoplifting in Louisiana is a crime with serious penalties, including potential fines and jail time. In addition to facing criminal penalties, shoplifters can be sued by merchants in civil court to recover damages.

Louisiana Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting in Louisiana is categorized as “theft of goods,” which occurs when a person takes anything of value from a merchant without consent or by fraud, with the intention of depriving the merchant. Intent to deprive the merchant is presumed when a person engages in activities such as concealing items on themselves in a store, altering or transferring price tags, moving goods from one container to another, damaging goods in a manner that renders them unsalable, or causing the cash register to "under-ring" an item.

Shoplifters are subject to both criminal and civil penalties under Louisiana law. This means that in addition to possible criminal prosecution leading to fines and imprisonment, shoplifters may be sued by merchants to collect money damages. Criminal and civil penalties are described below.

Louisiana Shoplifting Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Theft of goods valued at $500 or less with no more than one prior offense

Theft of goods

Jail time of up to six months and/or a fine of up to $500

Theft of goods valued at $500 or less with two or more prior offenses

Theft of goods

Jail time of up to two years and/or a fine up to $1,000

Theft of goods valued between $500 and $1,500

Theft of goods

Jail time of up to five years and/or a fine up to $2,000

Theft of goods exceeding $1,500 in value

Theft of goods

Jail time of up to 10 years and/or a fine up to $3,000

Civil Penalties

In addition to facing criminal penalties, shoplifters can be sued by merchants in civil court for the retail value of the merchandise taken, if not recovered in sellable condition, plus damages between $50 and $450.

Pretrial Diversion and Plea Bargaining

Some counties offer pretrial diversion programs to those accused of first-time and non-violent offenses, as an alternative to criminal prosecution. Those who wish to enter a diversion program must request diversion, which must be approved by the prosecutor and/or the court. Successful completion of the program will generally require the accused to complete a probationary period, perform community service, and make restitution. Upon completing the program requirements, the court will dismiss the criminal charges.

In addition, in certain circumstances, Louisiana courts can defer an offender’s sentence after a conviction, and if the offender successfully completes probation, the court can set aside the conviction and prosecution. The effect will be the same as an acquittal, except that the conviction can be considered as a first offense for sentencing purposes if the offender commits another crime.

If pretrial diversion programs are not option, the accused may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Plea bargains may involve receiving lesser charges or lighter sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

You should strongly consider getting legal assistance if you have been accused of shoplifting in the state of Louisiana. A lawyer can assist you in exploring all of your options, including entering a pretrial diversion program, raising defenses, and negotiating a plea bargain, so that you can achieve the best possible outcome in your case. 

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