Criminal Intent in Louisiana Law

Posted by Jarrett P. AmbeauMar 15, 20240 Comments

Understanding Criminal Intent Under Louisiana Law: A Comprehensive Guide

When navigating the complexities of criminal law in Louisiana, understanding the concept of criminal intent is pivotal. Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 14, Section 10, offers a detailed perspective on how criminal intent factors into the legal process. For anyone facing criminal charges or those interested in the nuances of Louisiana law, the Ambeau Law Firm, led by Jarrett Ambeau, a seasoned criminal defense trial attorney, provides invaluable insights into how intent can affect your case.

The Significance of Criminal Intent in Louisiana Law

Criminal intent, or mens rea, is a fundamental element in the assessment of criminal liability. It distinguishes between individuals who commit acts knowingly, recklessly, or with outright disregard for the law, and those whose actions are unintentional. Louisiana's legal framework is unique, reflecting its civil law heritage, which influences how criminal intent is interpreted and applied in court.

Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 14, Section 10, outlines the various forms of criminal intent that can influence the outcome of a case:

“Criminal intent

Criminal intent may be specific or general:

(1)  Specific criminal intent is that state of mind which exists when the circumstances indicate that the offender actively desired the prescribed criminal consequences to follow his act or failure to act.  

(2)  General criminal intent is present whenever there is specific intent, and also when the circumstances indicate that the offender, in the ordinary course of human experience, must have adverted to the prescribed criminal consequences as reasonably certain to result from his act or failure to act.”


Understanding these can be the difference between conviction and acquittal. The statute categorizes intent into specific intents, general intent, criminal negligence, and strict liability offenses, each with distinct implications for defendants.

Specific Intent and General Intent

Specific intent involves actions committed with the aim of bringing about a particular result. It requires a higher level of cognitive awareness and purposefulness towards the outcome of one's actions. Crimes like theft, where the perpetrator must have the intention to take and carry away property belonging to another, fall under this category.

General intent, on the other hand, doesn't require the prosecution to prove the defendant aimed to bring about a specific result, only that they were generally aware their actions were wrong. For instance, in battery cases, the state must show the defendant intended the act that caused harm but not necessarily the harm itself.

Criminal Negligence and Strict Liability

Criminal negligence occurs when an individual fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that their action or inaction will cause harm. This form of intent does not require the deliberate intention to cause harm but rather an egregious deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would observe.

Strict liability offenses, however, do not consider the perpetrator's intent at all. The mere act of committing the offense, such as traffic violations, is enough to warrant punishment, regardless of the defendant's mental state.

The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney

Navigating the complexities of intent in Louisiana law can be daunting. This is where the expertise of a criminal defense attorney becomes invaluable. Jarrett Ambeau and the Ambeau Law Firm excel in dissecting the nuances of criminal intent, offering a beacon of hope for those entangled in the legal system.

A skilled attorney like Jarrett Ambeau uses a deep understanding of Louisiana's legal statutes, including criminal intent, to craft a defense strategy that addresses the specific nuances of each case. Whether arguing the absence of specific intent in a theft case or mitigating circumstances in an act of alleged negligence, a knowledgeable lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome.

Strategic Defense and Advocacy

The Ambeau Law Firm's approach to defense begins with a thorough analysis of the charges against their clients, considering the required level of intent and any possible defenses or mitigating factors. By challenging the prosecution's assertions of intent, they can cast doubt on the elements of the crime, potentially leading to reduced charges or even dismissal.

Moreover, in cases where intent is a central issue, presenting evidence that the defendant did not have the requisite mental state to commit the crime can be a powerful defense. This might include demonstrating a lack of knowledge, intoxication, or any other factor that would negate the specific or general intent required for a conviction.


Understanding criminal intent is crucial for anyone involved in the criminal justice system in Louisiana. The law related to criminal intent, provides a framework for interpreting and applying these concepts in legal proceedings. For those facing criminal charges, securing the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Jarrett Ambeau is critical. The Ambeau Law Firm's expertise in navigating the intricacies of Louisiana law can provide a crucial advantage in defending against criminal charges.

The landscape of criminal law in Louisiana is complex, with the interpretation of intent playing a critical role in the outcome of criminal cases. By engaging a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, individuals have the opportunity to mount a comprehensive defense that fully addresses the nuances of their situation. In the challenging journey through the legal system, the Ambeau Law Firm stands out as a trusted advocate, ready to defend the rights and futures of their clients.