SUMMARY OF THE MULTIPLE OFFENDER LAW — Louisiana

Habitual Offender Law New Orleans

SUMMARY OF THE MULTIPLE OFFENDER LAW  — La R.S. 15:529.1

The District Attorney may charge a person as a multiple or habitual offender after that person has been convicted of more than one felony.

A felony is any crime which is punishable by imprisonment at hard labor. Common felonies include theft and receiving stolen things valued over $300.00, nearly all crimes of violence and drug crimes, burglary, issuing worthless checks over $100.00, and many other crimes.

After the first felony conviction, the penalties for all subsequent felony convictions become much more severe. A prior conviction in any state or country may be considered if the crime would be a felony if committed in Louisiana.

Sentencing:

         On a second felony conviction: If the second felony is such that upon a first conviction the offender would be punishable by imprisonment for any term less than his natural life, then the sentence to imprisonment shall be for a determinate term not less than one-third the longest term and not more than twice the longest term prescribed for a first conviction.  Sentencing of a second conviction if for sex offenses carries a different penalty as enumerated in R.S. 15:529.1 (2)(a) & (b).

       On a third felony conviction:  If the third felony is such that upon a first conviction, the offender would be punishable by imprisonment for any term less than his natural life then the person shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a determinate term not less than one-half of the longest possible sentence for the conviction and not more than twice the longest possible sentence prescribed for a first conviction.

If the third felony and the two prior felonies are felonies defined as a crime of violence under R.S. 14:2(B), or a sex offense as defined in R.S. 15:541 when the victim is under the age of eighteen at the time of commission of the offense, or any combination of such crimes, the person shall be imprisoned for the remainder of his natural life, without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

         On a fourth or subsequent conviction:

If the fourth or subsequent felony is such that, upon a first conviction the offender would be punishable by imprisonment for any term less than his natural life, then the person shall be sentenced to imprisonment not less than the longest prescribed time for a first conviction, but in no event less than twenty years and not more than NATURAL LIFE.

OR, if the fourth felony and no prior felony is defined as a crime of violence under R.S. 14:2(B) or as a sex offense under R.S. 15:541, then the minimum penalty is twenty years (in any instance) at hard labor.

AND, if the fourth felony and two of the prior felonies are felonies defined as a crime of violence under R.S. 14:2(B), or a sex offense as defined in R.S. 15:541 when the victim is under the age of eighteen at the time of commission of the offense, the person shall be imprisoned for the remainder of his NATURAL LIFE, without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

Noteworthy:

With exception to sexual offenses and/or violent offenses, no conviction may be considered if the defendant has satisfied the 5 year cleansing period, between the date of the commission of the current offense or offenses and the expiration of the correctional supervision, or term of imprisonment if the offender is not placed on supervision following imprisonment.

No conviction may be considered if the defendant has satisfied the 10 year cleansing period, beginning the date of release from actual custody or supervision by the Department of Corrections for probation, parole, or supervised good time, and ends on the date of the commission of the latest offense.

No sentence imposed under 15:529.1 may be suspended and the defendant may not be placed on probation. Most of these sentences are without reduction for good time.

In calculating whether a person is eligible for sentencing as an habitual offender, the sequence of offenses and convictions must be: commission of offense A, then conviction of offense A, then commission of offense B, then conviction of offense B, then commission of offense C, then conviction of offense C.

With exception to convictions obtained prior to October 19, 2004, convictions on the same day for several district offenses committed in different incidents do NOT count as one conviction.  See: State v. Michael Johnson, 2003-2993 (La. 10/19/04), 884 So.2d 568.

Each prior conviction must have been with counsel or an expressed waiver of counsel, and there must have been a complete Boykinization. Prior adjudication as a multiple offender is not required.

Defendants convicted of certain crimes which became felonies due to repeat offender status may not be multiple billed (such as repeat offender theft, possession of marijuana, convicted felon with firearm). However, those convictions may be used as prior (predicate) offenses if subsequently the defendant is convicted of another felony.

Elizabeth Bagert Carpenter is a Criminal Defense Attorney in the New Orleans area. If you are being charged of a crime as a Habitual Offender, Contact Attorney Carpenter.  She is ready to fight for your freedom.

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