I have been receiving an unusually high number of questions about the crime of shoplifting, its penal consequences and the grade of the offense (misdemeanor or felony).
What is Theft of Goods in New Orleans?
In the Louisiana Criminal Code, shoplifting is called “theft of goods.” The statute can be found at La. RS 14:67.10 and reads in pertinent part:
Theft of goods is the misappropriation or taking of anything of value which is held for sale by a merchant, either without the consent of the merchant or by means of fraudulent conduct. An intent to deprive the merchant permanently the subject of the misappropriation or taking is an essential element of this offense. The intent may be legally inferred when a person:
(1) Intentionally conceals goods that are for sale on his person or in a purse or backpack.
(2) Transfers or places goods from a package or container to another container, package, or wrapping in a manner to avoid detection.
(3) Alters or transfers the price tag reflecting the actual retail price of the goods.
(4) Intentionally causes the cash register or other sales recording device to reflect less than the actual retail price of the goods.
(5) Removes any price marking with the intent to deceive the merchant as to the actual retail price of the goods.
(6) Damages or consumes goods or property so as to render it unmerchantable.
What are the penalties for Shoplifting?
Like most offenses that can be quantified in a dollar amount, the grade of the offense and the penal consequences depend upon the value of the goods at issue.
- Value of the goods is $1,500.00 or more => Felony; Imprisoned for not more than 10 years with or without hard labor; and/or Fine of $3,000.00
- Value of the goods is $500.00 but less than $1,500.00 => Felony; Imprisoned for not more than 5 years with or without hard labor; and/or Fine of not more than $2,000.00
- Value of the goods is less than $500.00 => Misdemeanor; Imprisoned for not more than 6 months; and/or Fined of not more than $500.00
It should be understood that shoplifting in Louisiana is an enhanceable offense, meaning that subsequent convictions will carry harsher sentences and steeper fines. Furthermore, when the misappropriation or taking occurred on multiple occasions and/or by a number of distinct acts of the offender, the aggregate value of the misappropriations shall determine the grade of the offense.
Elizabeth B. Carpenter is an Attorney who represents people on shoplifting charges in the New Orleans area.