Burglary and Home Invasion Laws in Louisiana

A conviction for burglary or home invasion can result in felony penalties, including prison time and fines.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated June 06, 2024

Louisiana, like many states, protects people and property through burglary and similar laws.

Understanding Louisiana's Burglary and Related Property Crimes

Louisiana's burglary laws carry a wide range of penalties. The state reserves the harshest penalties for crimes involving homes and occupied properties. Below are definitions used in the law that help distinguish misdemeanors from felony-level offenses.

How Louisiana Defines Burglary and Other Property Crimes

Louisiana punishes unlawful entry onto another's property as one of four crimes—criminal trespass, unauthorized entry, burglary, and home invasion. Each crime builds upon the next in terms of elements (parts of a crime) and penalties.

Criminal trespass occurs when someone enters a structure, watercraft, or property without authorization.

Unauthorized entry is a criminal trespass that involves an intentional entry.

Burglary is defined as unauthorized entry into a dwelling or structure with intent to commit a felony or theft.

Home invasion occurs when unauthorized entry involves an occupied dwelling or structure used as a home and the defendant intends to commit battery (use of force or violence) or property damage.

How Louisiana Defines Burglary Terms

Louisiana's burglary-related crimes contain similar terms and criminal elements, but not all are defined in statute. The definitions below are gleaned from case law, treatises, and statutory language.

Dwelling or home. Louisiana's statutory language suggests that dwelling and home are one-in-the-same and mean a house, apartment, or other structure used, in whole or in part, as a residence. Likely, this would include a houseboat or RV.

Movable. Case law suggests the term "movable" refers to a movable vehicle or structure, such as a houseboat, trailer, or car.

Inhabited. Case law provides a definition of "inhabited." Inhabited refers to a structure that a person uses as a residence. Inhabited does not, however, mean the person must be present.

Entry. Louisiana courts have found the criminal element of "entry" occurs when any part of a defendant's body crosses the threshold of the structure or property. For instance, a hand reaching into a window constitutes an entry.

Unauthorized entry. Unauthorized entry does not need to involve force. It can involve any act of entry committed without permission or by fraud. For instance, opening an unlocked window or pushing open a door left ajar may constitute an unauthorized entry. A defendant who impersonates a police officer or repair person to gain entry also commits an unauthorized entry, even if the occupant lets the person in.

(State v. Conn, 420 So.2d 1123 (La. 1982); State v. Falls, 508 So.2d 1021 (La. Ct. App. 1987); La. Crim. Jury Instr. §§ 10:89 to 10:96 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Burglary in Louisiana?

Louisiana defines burglary as an unauthorized entry into a dwelling or structure with intent to commit a felony or theft.

Simple Burglary

A person commits simple burglary by entering a dwelling, house, apartment, or other structure without authorization and with intent to commit a theft or felony. Starting August 1, unlawful squatting will also fall under the crime of simple burglary.

This crime carries up to 12 years of prison time and a $2,000 fine. If the offender had a firearm, the law imposes a three-year minimum sentence. An offender who commits a string of burglaries must serve at least one year in jail or prison without the benefit of probation.

(La. Rev. Stat. § 14:62 (2024).)

Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling

Simple burglary of an inhabited home occurs when a person enters a house, apartment, or other structure used as a residence, without authorization and with intent to steal or commit a felony inside. For instance, a person who enters a house, knowing the family is on vacation, and steals their valuable electronics has committed simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling. A person convicted under this section faces one to 12 years in prison.

(La. Rev. Stat. § 14:62.2 (2024).)

Aggravated Burglary

Aggravated burglary involves unauthorized entry into (1) a dwelling used as a residence or (2) a structure, watercraft, or vehicle where a person is present, with intent to steal or commit a felony, and the offender:

  • is armed or becomes armed with a dangerous weapon, or
  • uses force or violence on a person at any point during the burglary (while entering, inside of, or leaving the structure).

A person convicted of aggravated burglary faces one to 30 years in prison.

(La. Rev. Stat. § 14:60 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Home Invasion in Louisiana?

Home invasion involves an unauthorized entry into an occupied dwelling or other structure used as a home, with intent to use force or violence on a person or to commit property damage. The occupant must be present for the crime to constitute a home invasion. A person convicted of home invasion faces one to 30 years in prison.

(La. Rev. Stat. § 14:62.8 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Unauthorized Entry of Property in Louisiana?

An unauthorized entry is a step down from burglary. A person intentionally enters a dwelling or structure without permission or authorization but does not intend to commit a crime. The penalties for unauthorized entry depend on the type of structure involved.

Inhabited dwelling. Unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling (occupied or not) carries a penalty of up to six years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Business. Unauthorized entry of a place of business that is completely enclosed by a fence or other barrier at least six feet in height also carries a penalty of six years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Critical infrastructure. Unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure (such as a power generating plant, water treatment plant, or natural gas storage facility) is a five-year felony and subject to a $1,000 fine. The statute provides that an unlawful entry can occur by using fraudulent documents to gain entrance, intentionally entering into a fenced, enclosed or restricted area, or remaining on or in the property after being told to leave.

Looting; state of emergency. The crime of unauthorized entry becomes looting if committed during a natural disaster (hurricane, flood, fire) or emergency (riot or mob) and the person unlawfully takes property. Looting can involve entry into a dwelling, business, or other movable or immovable structure or vehicle. A conviction can mean up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If committed during a declared state of emergency, the person faces a minimum sentence of three years and a minimum fine of $5,000 and is not eligible for probation or parole.

(La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:61, 14:62.3, 14:62.4, 14:62.5 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Criminal Trespass in Louisiana?

Criminal trespass occurs when a person enters a structure, watercraft, or movable or immovable property owned by another without permission. Signs and other markers (including purple paint marks of a certain size and placement) constitute notice that entrance is not permitted.

Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor. A first offense can be punished by up to 30 days in jail and a $100 to $500 fine. For a second offense, a person faces up to 90 days in jail and a $300 to $750 fine. All subsequent offenses are punishable by two to six months in jail and a fine of $500 to $1,000.

(La. Rev. Stat. § 14:63 (2024).)

Talk to an Attorney

If you're facing charges of burglary, home invasion, unauthorized entry, or criminal trespass, seek out the expertise of a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights. Be sure to ask your attorney about future consequences of having a criminal record.

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