Louisiana residents who are accused of a crime often feel that the penalties begin before they have been found guilty, or even before they have had a chance to defend themselves. The public tends to accept the official word on what happened as the truth, and those who are accused quickly find their reputation in their community suffering. When the crime carries a felony charge, a conviction can mean a lifetime of this damage to one's reputation.
Recently, LSU's football coach announced that he had kicked one of his players off the team after the 19-year-old was accused of burglarizing an apartment. The alleged burglary carries felony charges. The football player had previously been charged in other alleged crimes including battery and damage to property, and misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace for an alleged fight on the LSU campus.
The young athlete's once-promising future appears to be on hold. While he was still in high school, he was ranked as the No. 16 player for his position in the nation. He was considered one of the top 10 picks in Louisiana when he joined the LSU team earlier this year.
The difference between a felony and a lesser charge is simply the length of the jail sentence. Any charge that carries a penalty of more than a year in prison is a felony. Any charge that carries less than a year is a misdemeanor or infraction. While misdemeanor charges can bring hefty fines and time behind bars, the penalties that go with a felony conviction carry on even after a prison sentence is served or a fine is paid. Those who have been convicted of felonies typically must report their status every time they apply for a job, and they often see their freedom limited in many ways.
Because the consequences are so serious, it's crucial that those accused of felonies have a strong defense. An experienced Louisiana attorney can identify ways to fight the charges or have them reduced so that the accused can avoid the worst penalties and go on to live up to their potential in life.
Source: USA Today, "Jeryl Brazil kicked off LSU team after felony charge," Glenn Guilbeau, Dec. 5, 2013