Louisiana Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

The penalties for theft increase as the value of the stolen property increases. Learn about Louisiana's theft thresholds and penalties.

Louisiana criminal statutes define theft as the taking of anything of value that belongs to another person, either without consent or by fraudulent conduct. Any theft must involve the intent to deprive a person permanently of the property. (La. Rev. Stat. § 14:67(A) (2019).)

Many theft offenses will fall into the catch-all definition described above, but Louisiana statutes also identify several specific types of theft. Here's a list of those offenses:

  • theft of livestock (§ 14:67.1)
  • theft of timber (§ 14:67.2)
  • theft of a firearm (§ 14:67.15)
  • identity theft (§ 14:67.16)
  • theft of anhydrous ammonia (§ 14:67.19.1), and
  • theft of a motor vehicle (§ 14:67.26)

Classification and Punishment of Theft in Louisiana

Many states classify theft crimes at different levels (such as Class A, B, or C) and divide offenses into felonies and misdemeanors. Louisiana law takes a slightly different approach.

Classification

Louisiana increases the punishment for theft as the dollar value of the stolen property increases. But the law does not classify the offense as a misdemeanor- or felony-level offense. For each offense, the law sets the possible sentence in statute. A criminal offense is a felony in Louisiana if it carries a sentence of death or imprisonment “with or without hard labor,” which means the possibility of incarceration in state prison. Misdemeanors are any other crimes that do not qualify as felonies.

(La. Rev. Stat. § 14:2 (2019).)

Punishment

Like most states, Louisiana sets the punishment for theft offenses according to the value of the stolen property. The lowest theft offense (property valued at less than $1,000) is a misdemeanor offense. The other offenses are felonies.

  • For theft of property valued at less than $1,000, the offender can receive a sentence of imprisonment of not more than six months, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.
  • For theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $5,000, the offender can receive a sentence of imprisonment of not more than five years, a fine of not more than $2,000, or both.
  • For theft of property valued at more than $5,000 but less than $25,000, the offender can receive a sentence of imprisonment of not more than ten years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.
  • For theft of property valued at $25,000 or more, the offender can receive a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 20 years, a fine of not more than $50,000, or both.

(La. Rev. Stat. § 14:67 (2019).)

Enhanced Penalties for Repeat Offenses

Some types of theft carry more severe penalties if an offender has previous theft convictions. Below are a couple of examples.

Misdemeanor theft. Misdemeanor theft (property valued at less than $1,000) increases to a felony-level offense if the offender has two or more prior theft convictions. In that case, instead of the typical six-month sentence, the offender may receive a sentence of imprisonment of not more than two years, a fine of not more than $2,000, or both.

Firearm theft. A person who commits a first offense for theft of a firearm can be sentenced to two to ten years' imprisonment. The second offense carries a penalty of five to 15 years' imprisonment, and a third offense carries a 15- to 30-year sentence.

(La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:67(B)(4); 14:67.15 (2019).)

Civil Liability for Theft in Louisiana

In addition to the criminal penalties outlined above, a person who steals goods from a store or merchant can be held civilly liable to the merchant for the following damages:

  • the retail value of the merchandise taken, if not recovered in sellable condition, and
  • an additional penalty ranging from $50 to $500. (La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2799.1 (2019).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with theft, speak to a criminal defense attorney. Even a misdemeanor theft record can have significant, long-term consequences. A conviction record can result in a harsher sentence for a future crime and makes it more difficult to get a job, housing, and loans. An experienced lawyer can assist you in navigating the criminal justice process and help protect your rights.

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