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What are the consequences of a theft conviction in Louisiana?

As usual, there is no one answer to a question about the consequences a Baton Rouge defendant may encounter following a criminal conviction. Louisiana theft laws are easily misinterpreted. Theft is stealing, but the way you do it and what you take determine how serious the crime is.

You probably don't think shoplifters and car thieves have much in common, but they do. Shoplifting is often a misdemeanor, a so-called petty theft, although the charge could become a felony. The penalties for breaking Louisiana's theft law increase substantially according to the value of the stolen goods and the presence of a past theft conviction.

Theft describes all sorts of stealing, but theft and its legal cousins have different meanings and laws. The term grand larceny or grand theft refers to the stolen item's high value. Robbery is a forceful theft charge that can be aggravated by the use of a weapon, while burglary involves unlawful entry for the purpose of committing a theft or felony.

The basics of a theft charge include taking another person's property without consent. This can occur as a result of direct theft or through some fraudulent means. The criminal's intent is never to give back the property to the victim.

Defense of a theft charge may concentrate on the intent provision. The charge may not stick if a criminal defense attorney can show a defendant never wanted to deprive an owner of property permanently. Remember, theft intent involves a mindset that what was taken is never to be returned – borrowed goods are not stolen goods.

Any conviction has the potential to produce unpleasant circumstances like fines, imprisonment and restitution. How do you think a theft conviction would impact a job interview, a college application or personal relationships? You don't need to be convicted to imagine the answer or need for strong legal representation to minimize consequences.

Source: FindLaw, "Theft Overview" Sep. 24, 2014

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