What is the Law on Burglary in Louisiana, and what are the Punishments for it?
In layman terms, burglary is often confused with theft and robbery, but all three terms are defined differently in law. Although all three are criminal offenses, burglary does not involve unlawful seizure of someone else's property.
The unlawful entry of premises or property with the intent to commit a crime is sufficient to cause for any law enforcement agency to charge the perpetrator with the offense of burglary. The intended crime, if undertaken, is prosecuted as a separate crime in accordance with the relevant provisions of the governing law.
The State of Louisiana also declares burglary as a punishable criminal offense and identifies two types of theft as cited in the following statutes:
- Simple Burglary - Revised Statute RS 14:62 under Title 14 explains Simple Burglary as the unauthorized entry of any movable or immovable structure which may or may not be a dwelling, a vehicle, a vessel or craft on water or a cemetery, with the intent to commit a felony therein. Thus, the two elements of a simple burglary are “unauthorized entry” and the “ill-intent to commit a crime”.
Simple burglary is punishable by imprisonment of up to 12 years with or without hard labor and/or a fine which is no more than $2,000.
- Aggravated Burglary - Revised Statute RS 14:60 under Title 14 explains Aggravated Burglary as the unauthorized entry of any inhabited movable or immovable structure which may or may not be a dwelling, a vehicle, a vessel or craft on water or a cemetery, with the intent to commit a felony therein subject to any one of the following circumstances:
- The intruder is armed with a dangerous weapon.
- If, after entering the inhabited premise, the intruder takes possession of a dangerous weapon.
- If the intruder commits a battery upon any person during entry, occupancy, and exit of the premise.
Thus, if the burgled premise is inhabited and the intruder enters the premise with a dangerous weapon or inflicts serious injury to anyone during the burglary, it results in the criminal offense of Aggravated Burglary.
It is seen as a serious felony, punishable by imprisonment of 1-30 years with hard labor.
- Home Invasion - The aforesaid definition made it easy to distinguish burglary from other similar crimes until the home invasion was stipulated as a separate crime in 2017. As per Revised Statute RS 14:62.8 under Title 14, home invasion is the unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling with the intent to injure the inhabitants and/or damage their property. The explicit specification of the intended crime makes it a serious felony punishable by imprisonment of 1-30 years with hard labor and a fine no more than $5,000.
- Looting – Revised Statute 14:62.5 elaborates the elements that constitute looting as:
- the intentional unauthorized entry into any movable or immovable structure i.e. home, office, plant, shop, vehicle, boat, etc. that is used in part or in full, as a dwelling or a place of work where another individual spends a sizeable amount of time
- Where the normal security of the said structure is not present due to natural calamities or so-called hand of god situations such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc. or man-made misfortunes such as riots, mob violence, mass evacuations, etc.
- Obtains or exercises control over or damages or removes such property of the owner.
It is pertinent to further note that in case of looting, the intruder may acquire possession of a property, unlike a typical burglary, but the special circumstances do not permit the owner to claim robbery or theft as the property in question is left vulnerable to certain damage and the perpetrator cannot claim abandonment of the property which is open for possession of another the original rights of the rightful owner do not cease in the said circumstances.
Looting is punishable by imprisonment of 3-15 years without parole, probation or suspension of sentence and hard labor during incarceration and a fine of $5,000 to $10,000.