Those who are accused of shoplifting can land into some serious legal hot water in Louisiana.

Like many other states, Louisiana’s laws classify the severity of a theft charge by the dollar amount involved.

For example, if the value involved is under $1,000, a person will face a misdemeanor charge and the possibility of 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine. However, someone who has 2 prior convictions for theft, no matter the dollar amount, faces up to 2 years in prison.

For larger amounts, the punishments steadily increase. Someone who allegedly takes more than $1,000, for instance, faces a felony charge and up to 5 years in prison, even for a first offense. Someone accused of taking more than $25,000 can go to prison for 20 years.

Shoplifting-related charges can stack up quickly

It is surprisingly easy to be accused of stealing more than $1,000 in goods from a store. For one, prosecutors are allowed to total up the value of what a person and his or her accomplices supposedly took.

A handful of expensive clothing or electronic devices can cross the $1,000 threshold.

Moreover, prosecutors are allowed to assume a person’s intention was to steal if the person hides merchandise or takes other steps, even if the person never actually leaves the store with the merchandise.

A group of young Baton Rouge residents recently found out how easy it is to face a felony charge related to shoplifting. They were arrested after being accused of removing price tags from merchandise and then concealing the items.

After a shoplifting-related charge, sometimes it is best for a person to admit his or her mistake and work out a reasonable deal with the prosecutor. However, there are legal defenses available to shoplifting charges, and those accused should be aware of their legal options.