In Louisiana, crimes are divided into felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are crimes that are punishable by death or imprisonment in state prison. (La. Rev. Stat. § 14:2.)
Less serious crimes (misdemeanors) are punishable by up to one year in parish or local jail.
For more information on misdemeanors in Louisiana, see Louisiana Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
In most states, lawmakers designate each crime by class (such as “Class A felonies” or “level 1 felonies”). Each class has its own sentence or range of sentences. Louisiana does things differently. Louisiana’s laws designate crimes as misdemeanors or felonies and fix sentences on a crime-by-crime basis.
For example, rape of a person age 65 or older is punishable by life imprisonment at hard labor.
For more information on sex crimes and their penalties, see Louisiana Sexual Battery Laws.
Attempting to poison another person’s food, drink, or medicine is punishable by two years in prison with or without hard labor, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
For more information on the penalties for assault and battery, see Felony Assault and Battery Louisiana.
Many crimes have a “statute of limitations,” a time period during which the state must begin criminal prosecution or the defendant can have the case thrown out. In Louisiana, as in most states, the most serious crimes (such as murder) have no statute of limitations.
For more information, see Louisiana Criminal Statute of Limitations.
A felony conviction has extremely serious consequences. You can lose your right to vote or hold public office, and a felony conviction can make it difficult to obtain a job or a professional license. It can also lead to harsher sentences if you are ever convicted of another crime. If you are charged with a crime, the best way to avoid a felony conviction is to talk to a local criminal defense attorney in Louisiana. An experienced attorney can tell you what to expect in court based on the law, the facts, and the judge and prosecutor assigned to your case. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights so that you can obtain the best outcome possible under the circumstances.