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Copyright (c) 2008 Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Loyola Law Review

COMMENT: THE LOUISIANA HABITUAL OFFENDER STATUTE: WHEN THE TIME DOESN'T FIT THE CRIME

Winter, 2008

LOYOLA LAW REVIEW

54 Loy. L. Rev. 941

Author

S. Renee Bourg

Excerpt




Carl faces three counts of negligent homicide. While driving home from a Mardi Gras parade Carl looked down to pick up his cell phone and accidentally swerved into an oncoming car, killing its three occupants. He had alcohol in his system at the time. 2 Because Carl has an eight-year-old felony conviction from a youthful indiscretion, he can be sentenced as a habitual offender and receive an extended sentence for each count of negligent homicide. 3

The Louisiana Habitual Offender Statute 4 ("the Statute") was intended to impact chronic criminal behavior, not to increase punishment for an act of negligence or poor judgment. 5 In Carl's case, a longer prison term does not advance the Statute's goal of discouraging a potential career criminal from future crime, nor does it protect society by taking a hardened criminal off the street. 6 Nonetheless, the language of many Habitual Offender Statutes often casts a broad net, and unintended offenders get caught in the haul. The legislature needs to narrow the language of the Statute to ensure that enhanced sentencing is applied only to those crimes intended under the Statute, and that those who commit less threatening offenses are protected from suffering punishment that does not fit the crime.

Section I of this Comment provides an overview of the case law and legislative development of the Louisiana Habitual Offender Statute. Section II addresses the purpose of the Louisiana Habitual Offender Statute and discusses the distinction between multiple crimes entered on the same day as ...
 
 
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