Many steal because they face extreme financial hardship, but some have a mental disorder that affects their ability to control the impulse to steal. It can be something you want, or it could be something you had never previously given a thought. It is common for those with kleptomania to get caught eventually, and explaining the situation to the court is essential.
A defendant with a compulsive need to steal is dealing with a mental health issue. Like other similar compulsive disorders involving gambling, sex, and alcohol or drug use, the individual has uncontrollable urges that are harmful to themselves and possibly others. It can be the result of trauma endured in the past.
In nearly all cases, the theft has less to do with needing something and more with managing the compulsion. Stealing soothes a compulsive disorder, helps with overwhelming stress, and addresses the condition.
Kleptomania is rare, involving less than one percent of the population, but it is well-known. Like many other mental health challenges, there is currently no surefire cure. Nevertheless, the treatments often include serotonin reuptake inhibitors, impulse control education and strategies for stress management.
A partial defense
The circumstances surrounding the charges will impact the penalties. Kleptomania is undoubtedly not a get-out-of-jail pass, but judges understand that it’s a disorder and are inclined to hand down sentences that reflect this. It could be mandatory classes, therapy or treatment as an alternative to prison and significant fines. An experienced attorney can help argue for these sentencing alternatives.