Louisiana's definition of theft covers a number of crimes, including larceny, embezzlement, and theft by deception. Read on to learn how Louisiana law defines and penalizes theft offenses.
Louisiana criminal statutes define theft as the taking or misappropriation of anything of value—property, money, or services—that belongs to another person, either without consent or by fraudulent conduct. Any theft must involve the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property.
Louisiana statutes also identify several specific types of theft with penalties that differ from those described below, such as theft of a firearm, anhydrous ammonia, catalytic converter, or a motor vehicle. For information on these and other specific theft crimes, consult the most recent version of the Louisiana Revised Statutes (title 14) or a criminal defense attorney. You can also find more information on vehicle theft-related crimes in our article Auto Theft Laws in Louisiana.
(La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:2, 14:67 to 14:67.26 (2022).)
Like most states, Louisiana sets the punishment for theft offenses according to the value of the stolen property. The lowest theft offense is a misdemeanor. All other offenses are felonies.
A defendant who steals property or services valued at less than $1,000 commits a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
By stealing property or services worth $1,000 or more, a person commits a felony-level offense. The penalties increase along with the value of the stolen property or services.
(La. Rev. Stat. § 14:67 (2022).)
Some types of theft carry more severe penalties if an offender has previous theft convictions. Below are a couple of examples.
Repeat theft offenses. 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.
Habitual felony offender. A second or subsequent felony offense (of any kind) carries stiff enhanced penalties. The enhanced sentence depends on the number of prior felonies committed within the past five years and, in some cases, the type of felony (such as a violent felony or sex offense).
(La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:67; 15:529.1 (2022).)
A person who steals merchandise from a store faces the theft penalties described above, as well as civil penalties.
Louisiana's law defines shoplifting to include any of the following done with the intent to deprive the store owner of their property:
Shoplifting is considered theft and carries the penalties listed above that are based on the value of the property stolen.
In addition to the criminal penalties, a person who steals goods from a store or merchant can be held civilly liable to the merchant for the following damages:
(La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2799.1 (2022).)
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.