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Experienced Theft and Property Crime Attorney in Lafayette

If you have been wrongfully charged with theft, burglary, unauthorized use of a movable, or some other property crime, do not put your freedom and reputation at risk. Hire a law firm that will take a proactive and aggressive approach to your defense.

The Ikerd Law Firm understands the gravity of your situation and how being charged with a property crime can have serious long-lasting consequences on your life, including fines and imprisonment to a permanent criminal record.

From communicating with the prosecution on your behalf to negotiating plea deals, and if necessary, taking your case to trial, we will aggressively pursue a positive resolution of your case.

 

Theft and Property Crimes Defense

Property crimes include a broad category of criminal offenses that involve the unauthorized taking or damaging of someone else’s property.

These types of crimes can range from relatively minor offenses, such as shoplifting or vandalism, to more serious offenses, such as burglary, robbery, and arson.

If you have been charged with a property crime, it is important to understand the nature of the charges against you and the potential penalties you may be facing.

 

Types of Property Crimes

  • Misdemeanor TheftA person standing on top of a table with a cell phone
  • Felony Theft
  • Receiving Stolen Property/Possession of Stolen Things
  • Vehicle Theft
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Home Invasion
  • Firearm Theft
  • Criminal Damage to Property
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Financial Fraud Crimes

 

Potential Penalties for Certain Property Crimes

  • Theft

    Theft is the intentional taking or misappropriation of anything of value that belongs to another person, without that person’s consent and with the intent to permanently deprive them of the thing. La. R.S. 14:67. 

    There may be many defenses to a theft charge, including the value of the thing, the intent of the defendant, and the fact it was never intended to be taken on a permanent basis.

    Theft has both a felony and misdemeanor version, which depends on the value of the thing taken and the number of prior theft convictions.

     

  • Misdemeanor Theft

    Misdemeanor theft in Louisiana includes stolen property that has a value of less than $1,000. But if the defendant has two or more prior theft convictions, the State can charge the current theft as a felony, regardless of the value of the thing taken.

    If someone has ever been convicted of misdemeanor theft in the past, the offense can lead to a felony charge in future cases, which has much harsher consequences. That is why hiring an experienced attorney to handle a misdemeanor theft is critically important and you should not wait until you are facing a felony offense.

    For a first offense, the punishment for misdemeanor theft is a sentence of not more than 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and in some cases, both.

     

  • Felony Theft

    Felony theft in Louisiana is when a person steals property valued at $1,000 or more. The offender is made to serve more severe penalties.

    These are escalating penalties for felony theft according to the Louisiana penal code, depending on the value of the thing taken:

    Value of Thing Taken Sentencing Range
    $1,000 – 4,999.99 Up to 5 years in prison, a fine of $3,000, or both
    $5,000 – 24,999.99 Up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both
    $25,000 or more Up to 20 years in prison at hard labor, a fine of $50,000, or both

    Note that in Louisiana, “theft” can encompass many different crimes you have heard of, such as Embezzling and Shoplifting. The Criminal Code was recently updated to eliminate specific subcategories of theft and place them all under the same umbrella.

     

  • Carjacking

    Carjacking is the intentional taking of another person’s motor vehicle, when another person is present and where the taking is completed by use of force or intimidation. La. R.S. 14:64.2.

    The penalty for the crime of carjacking is anywhere between 2 and 20 years of imprisonment at hard labor and without the benefit of parole, probation, or a suspension of sentence. If “serious bodily injury” occurs during the taking of the vehicle, the penalty increases to a minimum of 10 years and not more than 20 years at hard labor.

     

  • Theft of a Motor Vehicle

    The degree of the theft charge also depends on how much the vehicle is worth. The higher the dollar value of the car, the longer the jail sentence and the higher the fine.

    The penalties for  theft of a motor vehicle  in Louisiana are:

    • Valued at less than $1,000: up to 6 months of imprisonment, a fine of $1,000, or both.
    • Valued between $1,000 to $5,000: up to 5 years of imprisonment, a fine of $3,000, or both.
    • Valued between $5,000 to $25,000: up to 10 years of imprisonment, fine of $10,000 or both
    • Valued at more than $25,000: up to 20 years of imprisonment. A fine of $50,000 or both.

 

  • Two people holding hands with handcuffs on themIllegal Possession of Stolen Things

    The penalties for this still depend on the value of the stolen property that is being illegally possessed.

    This means that you had to know, or had good reason to know, that the items were stolen before you can be convicted of this charge. For example, if someone received a stolen item as a gift but had no idea that the item was stolen, then such an individual cannot be charged for illegal possession of stolen things.

    If an individual knew or should have recognized that the items were stolen, then they may be charged with illegal possession of stolen things. La. R.S. 14:69.

    The penalties for illegal possession of stolen things in Louisiana are:

    • Valued at less than $1,000: up to 6 months of imprisonment, a fine of $1,000, or both
    • Valued between $1,000 but less than $5,000: up to 5 years of imprisonment, a fine of $3,000, or both
    • Valued between $5,000 – $25,000: up to 10 years of imprisonment a fine of $10,000, or both
    • Valued at $25,000 or more: Up to 20 years of imprisonment, a fine of $50,000, or both

    This crime too may be enhanceable from a misdemeanor to a felony if you have two prior theft charges. In such a case, the value of the thing is not an element of the crime.

     

Other Property Crimes:

  • Robbery:
    • Armed Robbery: 10-99 years at hard labor, without probation or parole
    • First-Degree Robbery: 3-40 years at hard labor, without probation or parole
    • Second Degree Robbery: 3-40 years at hard labor Home Invasion: 1-30 years at hard labor and a fine up to $5,000
  • Simple Burglary: Up to 12 years in jail, $2,000 fine, or both
  • Unauthorized Use of a Movable:
    • Value: $1,000 or less = 6 months in parish jail, $500 fine, or both
    • Value: over $1,000 = 2 years in jail, $5,000 fine, or both

 

The Importance of Criminal Defense When Charged with a Theft or Property Crime

If you have been charged with a property crime, it is essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.

An attorney can help you understand the nature of the charges against you, the potential penalties you may be facing, and the best defense strategies for your case.

 

Potential Defense Strategies May Include:

  1. Lack of intent – arguing that the defendant did not intend to commit a crime and that their actions were accidental or mistaken. Often someone will cry “thief” when there was no intent to permanently deprive the owner of their thing. This is a necessary element of most property crimes, but not all, such as “unauthorized use” of a movable or motor vehicle.
  2. Alibi – providing evidence that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime at the time it was committed.
  3. Mistaken identity – arguing that the defendant was not the person who committed the crime and that they have been wrongly accused.
  4. Illegal search and seizure – arguing that the evidence against the defendant was obtained illegally, and should not be admissible in court.
  5. Value of Item – oftentimes the police and prosecution will take the victim’s word for the valuation of the item, which could increase the penalties and class of crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. “Valuation” is based on the depreciated value at the time of the property crime, not the original value when purchased.

It’s important to note that these strategies may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific facts of the case. Some strategies may be more appropriate than others, and each case must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

 

Representation You Can Count On

We understand the severity of these accusations and the impact they can have on your life, reputation, and family. Many people consider a “theft” crime as showing a lack of moral character, which could put a blemish on your reputation and affect your chances of employment, friendship, and even relationships.

Our attention to detail and relentless pursuit of justice for our clients ensure that your rights and integrity are protected throughout every step of the legal process.

Do not let a property crime charge stop you from having the future you deserve. Contact Chad Ikerd and the Ikerd Law Firm today for a free consultation.

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