What You Should Know About Theft Charges in Louisiana

theft charges in louisiana

According to Louisiana criminal statutes, theft is the act of taking things of value to other persons with the intent of permanently depriving them of the property. Taking a joyride in another person’s vehicle is an example of a temporary deprivation, while grand theft auto is a permanent one.

There are specific types of theft in this state, besides larceny, embezzlement, and theft by false pretenses—state laws identify theft of livestock, theft of timber, theft of a firearm, identity theft, and theft of anhydrous ammonia, among others.

Here are things your criminal defense attorney would like you to know about theft charges in Louisiana.

How Does Louisiana Classify and Punish Acts of Theft?

In this state, the punishment for theft increases with the dollar value of the stolen item or property. The lowest offense—taking property amounting to less than $1,000—is a misdemeanor. Offenders could receive a sentence of imprisonment up to five years, a fine of $1,000 and below, or both.

Here are the other levels of punishment in the state:

  1. For theft of property worth $1,000 to $5,000, the punishment could be imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $3,000, or both.
  2. For theft of property worth $5,000 to $25,000, the punishment could be imprisonment of up to ten years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  3. For theft of property worth upwards of $25,000, the punishment could be imprisonment of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.

In Louisiana, though, the law does not specify whether the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony. It sets the possible sentence in the statute, and in the state, a criminal offense is a felony if it carries the possibility of being sent to state prison.

If the punishment does not involve a sentence of life imprisonment or death “with or without hard labor,” it is a misdemeanor or a crime that does not qualify as a federal offense. Speaking with a local criminal defense attorney will help clarify the classifications and punishments applicable to specific situations.

What are the Penalties for Repeat Offenders in Louisiana?

If the offender has prior convictions for theft, the penalties are often more severe. Here are some examples:

  • Prior conviction of misdemeanor theft: If the offender has two or more prior convictions of misdemeanor theft, the court treats the following instance as a felony-level offense. If found guilty, the offender could receive a sentence of imprisonment of up to two years, a $2,000 fine, or both.
  • Prior conviction of firearm theft: A first offense of firearm theft means a sentence of two to ten years of imprisonment. If the offender is found guilty a second time, the penalty goes up as well. He could serve anywhere from five to 15 years. Finally, a third offense means a 15 to 30-year sentence.
  • Penalties for habitual felonies: Repeat felonies carry enhanced penalties depending on the number and types of offenses the person committed in the past five years. Some acts like violent crimes or sex offenses lead to enhanced sentences.

Are there Penalties for Shoplifting in Louisiana?

Shoplifters face civil and criminal penalties. In the state’s law, an essential element in theft is the intent to deprive others of the property permanently. State courts consider the following acts as proof of the defendant’s intent to deprive a store owner of merchandise permanently:

  • intentional concealment of the items
  • removal or alteration of price tags and markings
  • switching packages to avoid detection

Besides criminal liabilities, persons who steal from stores or merchants can also be held civilly liable for damages. They must return the merchandise stolen—if they cannot recover it anymore, or if it is not in sellable condition, they must pay its retail value. In addition, they have to pay a maximum of $500 in additional penalties.

If you have a question about theft charges in Louisiana, contact The Law Office of Christopher M. Stahl today.


A person charged with theft must speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately. Even misdemeanors could have long-term effects. You could find it challenging to secure a job, open a loan, or even enroll in a degree program with a conviction on record. With an experienced lawyer, you’re sure you’re getting the assistance you need in protecting your rights.

Christopher M. Stahl is a Bossier City criminal defense attorney who has been practicing law since 2012. He specializes in the Webster Parish and Minden, LA areas and has handled hundreds of criminal law cases in the state. Request a consultation today to learn more.

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