Burglary vs. Theft in Louisiana: Understanding the Differences and Consequences

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If you were accused of taking something that doesn’t belong to you, you may be facing serious criminal charges. If you’re convicted of the crime, you could end up with jail time and fines, depending on your specific offense.

To fully understand the penalties that might apply to your case, it’s important to know what your charges mean and how they differ from similar offenses. Take a look at how burglary and theft are defined and treated in Louisiana’s criminal courts, and then contact a local law firm to fight your charges.

What Is Burglary?

A person charged with burglary Louisiana is accused of unlawfully entering someone’s house, car, boat, or other structure with the intent to commit theft or any other felony. In most cases, burglary refers to breaking into someone’s home or vehicle without their consent and stealing an item. So, if you entered someone’s house or car without their consent and stole their valuables, you’ll likely be charged with burglary.

But as the definition suggests, it’s possible to be charged with burglary even if you didn’t steal anything, since unlawfully entering someone’s property with the intent to commit a crime is considered burglary. So, if you broke into a house and vandalized it, you could be charged with burglary.

The penalties for this crime depend on the circumstances of the act. If convicted of simple burglary in Louisiana, you could be punished by up to 12 years in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If you’re convicted of aggravated burglary because you armed yourself with a dangerous weapon or committed battery against someone during the crime, you face imprisonment with hard labor for one to 30 years. Your lawyer can tell you which penalties apply to your case.

What Is Theft?

This state defines theft as taking someone else’s property without their consent, with the intention of depriving them of it permanently. In most cases, the accused doesn’t make contact with the person they’re stealing from.

While stealing an item from an individual or store is a typical example of theft, there are several variations of this crime. The following are all examples of theft:

  • Credit card fraud
  • Shoplifting
  • Identity theft
  • Vehicle theft
  • Livestock theft
  • Firearm theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Possession of stolen goods

Theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the stolen item and the circumstances surrounding the crime. The penalties are also decided based on the stolen item’s value.

For instance, if you stole $25,000 or more worth of items, you could be punished with up to 20 years in prison with hard labor, plus a fine of up to $50,000. If the value of stolen items was at least $5,000 but less than $25,000, the penalties drop to 10 years or less in prison with or without hard labor and up to $10,000 in fines.

If the items you stole were worth at least $1,000 but less than $5,000, your penalty could be prison with or without hard labor for up to 5 years and a fine of up to $3,000. If the items you stole were worth less than $1,000, you could face up to six months of prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

Which Charge Is More Serious?

Both theft and burglary are serious crimes that could result in jail time and fines if you’re convicted. As such, don’t hesitate to hire a criminal defense lawyer regardless of your exact charge.

If you’re wondering which charge has more severe penalties, it depends on the value of the items you stole and whether you used a weapon or harmed someone during the crime. Simple burglary can lead to more jail time than theft of $1,000 in items from a store. However, stealing $25,000 worth of items from a person or business is usually punished more harshly than simple burglary.

If you’re worried about which charges and penalties to expect after you’ve stolen something, contact Keith T. Whiddon, Attorney at Law, LLC. When you call our Monroe law offices at 318-594-3592, we can inform you of your legal options and start working on a defense for your case.

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