Criminal Law in Louisiana
Whether innocent or guilty, a qualified Louisiana criminal defense attorney will professionally analyze your criminal case, create effective legal strategies, provide advice and guidance, and aggressively defend you in court. If you feel overwhelmed and uncertain of the next step, this article was written for you.
Because jail time may be possible and your future is at stake, we'll discuss:
- Louisiana criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Louisiana; and
- How to work with your Louisiana criminal defense attorney.
Louisiana Criminal Laws
Louisiana criminal laws are found in Title 14 of the Louisiana Laws. The Code includes all state crimes, including falsifying evidence, embezzlement, money laundering, bad checks, bigamy, arson, incest, computer crimes, stalking, abduction, harassment, DUI, and child abuse.
Criminal law seeks to protect society from injury.
- Laws are written and applied to provide notice of what constitutes a crime and to serve both as a deterrent and as a punishment.
- Ignorance of the law is no defense.
Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred. Most criminal statutes of limitations are in Articles 571 and 572 of Louisiana's Code of Criminal Procedure.
For example, in Louisiana, the statute of limitations for:
- Manslaughter is 6 years. (La. Crim. Code Proc. art. 572(A)(1)).
- Second Degree Murder is unlimited. (La. Crim. Code Proc. art. 571).
- Receiving Stolen Property is 2 or 4 years. (La. Crim. Code Proc. art. 572(A)(2) or (3)).
Louisiana judges must dole out criminal punishment based upon "Determinate Sentencing" laws. This means that if you are convicted of a felony and sentenced to jail time, the judge selects one of three prison terms: "low-term", "mid-term" or "high-term".
The decision is at the discretion of the judge and is based upon your criminal history, severity of the crime, and the circumstances of the crime.
For example, in Louisiana, sentencing guidelines call for:
- 10 to 99 years of prison for armed robbery.
- 2 to 20 years of prison for carjacking.
- 2 to 20 years of prison for purse snatching.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
Here's the criminal law bottom line:
- Ask to be represented by an attorney, even if you're just being questioned. Always seek legal counsel.
- Asking for an attorney doesn't indicate that you've done anything wrong.
- Regardless of whether you're innocent or guilty, you need to be represented by a Louisiana defense lawyer.
- Do not speak with the police except to provide your name and ask for a criminal defense attorney.
- Be honest and open with your attorney, even if what you have to say looks bad.
How to Work with a Louisiana Criminal Defense Lawyer
Bottom Line: Your lawyer is your best defense and, besides you, your only advocate. Always keep this in mind when you choose how to act or react.
This is what you need to do to do your part in your own defense:
- Follow your lawyer's advice, even if you don't want to.
- Explain what happened to your attorney - include the details you'd rather forget and those that make you look guilty.
- Return all phone calls or emails promptly.
- Provide all requested information right away.
- If your phone number or address changes, update your attorney's office immediately.
- Answer questions. It's okay for your attorney to question you, even challenge you.
- Be patient and understanding. It's okay, professional, and appropriate for your attorney to be polite and cooperative with police officers, investigators, witnesses, alleged victims, and the district attorney (or other prosecutor).
Bottom Line: Ask the bar association or friends for referrals or simply Google, "How to find a Louisiana Criminal Defense Attorney."Your next step is to call a criminal defense attorney now.