State lawmakers consider mandatory home invasion sentence

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 8, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 8 at 10:21 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The penalties for those who commit home invasions could become steeper in Louisiana.

A Louisiana Senate committee passed a proposed law Tuesday requiring a mandatory minimum sentence for offenders.

A police report says two people were beaten up by two assailants who forced their way into a unit at the Mid-City's Flagstaff Apartments.

According to the NOPD, the home invasion went down around 7 a.m. Monday where Tiffany Mason lives.

"That really made me scared that I would lose everything," said Mason of hearing that someone she knows was recently robbed.

The idea of someone breaking into her home is one Mason would rather not think about. Normally, she said, her apartment complex is trouble-free.

"No one has ever tried to do anything. They're pretty friendly," added Mason.

When it comes to home invasions, state lawmakers are looking at beefing up the punishment by requiring a five-year minimum prison sentence. Current law says offenders face up to 25 years behind bars without any minimum sentence. If armed, they face a 30-year sentence.

"Intent is very hard to define legally, and in areas where intent is hard to define you don't create a mandatory minimum," said Tulane University Criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf.

He said proposed Senate Bill 313 is not only hard to prove in court, but it will be an added strain on the state's prison system.

"Right now, we're so overburdened by correctional costs that we have to be very judicious over our use of criminal sanctions," said Dr. Scharf.

While detectives look into this latest Mid-City home invasion, Mason said she'll be watching her back more carefully as she comes and goes.

"Going to keep both of my doors locked, every lock on the door," said Mason.

Besides facing prison time, current state law says anyone who commits a home invasion also faces a $5,000 to $7,000 fine depending on if they are armed.

Senate Bill 313 now heads to the full Louisiana Senate for a vote.

 

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