Louisiana is known as “the world's prison capital” for having not only the highest incarceration rate in the country, but in the entire world. Countries comparable to the United States have an average rate of 100 prisoners per 100,000 adults; in Louisiana, this number skyrockets to 816 prisoners per 100,000. Louisiana laws are slowly changing, but due to tough-on-crime sentencing laws like the “three strikes” law, criminal offenders often face overly-aggressive punishments. Multiple offenders in Louisiana can relatively easily face life behind bars without parole for having several felony convictions, even for non-violent offenses. Let's examine the state's three-strikes law.
What is the Three Strikes Law?
The three strikes law or “multiple offender” law allows the district attorney to charge a person as a multiple or habitual offender after he has been convicted of more than one felony offense. A felony in Louisiana is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment “at hard labor” and includes nearly all violent offenses, drug offenses, theft and fraud offenses, sex offenses, and more.
A person who is convicted of a felony offense in Louisiana will face much harsher penalties for subsequent felonies. Prior felony convictions received in other states may be considered if the crime would be a felony had it been committed in Louisiana. One who receives a second felony conviction faces a much longer sentence than the minimum allowance because the first conviction works as an aggravating factor, escalating the penalties.
Second Felony Conviction Guidelines
In Louisiana, one who receives a second felony conviction faces a much harsher minimum penalty than a first-time offender. The minimum penalty for the second felony conviction in Louisiana is half of the maximum term possible for a first offender. The maximum penalty the defendant may face is double the maximum term for a first offense.
Third Felony Conviction Guidelines
A person who convicted of his third felony offense faces a minimum penalty of two-thirds the maximum penalty a first offender would face. The maximum penalty he may face is double the maximum penalty for a first offender. Third-time felony offenders could face life in prison without parole if his prior felony convictions were for:
- Violent crimes
- Sex crimes against a person under 18
- Drug crimes punishable by 10 or more years in prison
- Any crimes punishable by 12 or more years in prison
Fourth Felony Conviction Guidelines
Any criminal offender receiving his fourth felony conviction in Louisiana faces a minimum of 20 years in prison with hard labor and a maximum of natural life without parole.
These harsh punishments that multiply over the number of felonies play a significant role in keeping the state's prisons full. If you face a felony conviction in Louisiana, you should be aware of the severity of your circumstances. Do not hesitate to seek strong criminal representation urgently; the sooner you work with experienced criminal defense attorneys like those at Lawrence Law Firm, the sooner your options can be preserved and presented to you.
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