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Defense of Kleptomania for Petty Theft

On Lawyer & Legal » criminal law & procedure

3,750 words with 4 Comments; publish: Sun, 01 Feb 2009 17:44:00 GMT; (80046.88, « »)

My question involves criminal law for the state of: New York

A few weeks ago I was arrested for shoplifting approximately $300 worth of beauty products from Sephora and brought to jail for it. Although it was one of the worst and most terrifying experiences of my life, part of me was relieved because I thought it would be the only way I would finally stop shoplifting. I know this may sound sound weird, but sometimes in the past I would hope that someone would just catch me already to put me out of my misery. (my urge to steal)

I don't know if I actually meet the full criteria for Kleptomania according to the DSM-IV, but what I do know is that I am tormented by my condition, and have always wanted to stop by couldn't. I'm not trying to get sympathy from the judge, or from others here on the forum. I just know that I truly have a condition/disorder of some sort in which I have no control, and which can only be described as an obsession/fixation to take something, and then relief when I finally take it.

I am due to appear in court this coming Tuesday, and have not hired a lawyer because I don't think I could afford one. I don't know if I would be able to plead not guilty by reason of a mental/psychological condition. I'm sure I would have to prove it somehow. My therapist knows about my arrest, but I have not considered having her testify for me.

I certainly don't want the judge to think I am looking for an easy way out, or looking to make excuses for myself. But I also don't want to be put in jail, or to have this appear on my record. Ironically, I am trying to get licensed as a mental health counselor and feel that this would disable me from doing so.

Could someone give me advice on whether or not I should hire a lawyer, and if so, if I would be able to plead not guilty due to a mental condition? If this is something that is hard to prove in court, then I won't go though with it. But then how else should I plea? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Also, would admitting to the judge that I have shoplifted on other occasions make him/her more likely to give me a harsher sentence? I want to be honest, but I also don't want it to backfire on me. But I feel this strong urge to be open and honest to the judge, and to let him/her see that I really have been wanting to stop, and that this is something beyond my control.

Thanks in advance to anyone that replies to my message.

All Comments

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    • Dave's point has some validity - both examples revolve around temptation, not compulsion. Being an alcoholic doesn't make you drink and drive, but it makes it harder to stay sober even if you know you'll be driving. Kleptomania doesn't make you steal; it just makes it harder to resist the temptation.
      #1; Mon, 09 Feb 2009 08:44:00 GMT
    • I'm no expert....well, sort of......BUT!

      Ask yourself this: Would alcoholism be a 'logical' defense strategy for a DUI arrest?

      I'm just sayin'.

      #2; Mon, 02 Feb 2009 21:57:00 GMT
    • got to disagree with this one Dave. Alcoholism does not force one to drive, just drink and it is not recognized as a cause of drinking, just continuation. Kleptomania is not a self inflicted condition and the action is the illness.

      If you want to argue kleptomania, you had best plan on spending a lot of money on pro witnesses and attorneys. If you have no prior Dx or treatment or even counseling to support your claim, you are fighting a really big uphill battle. Making this claim out of the blue with no treatment prior to this situation will surely look like an attempt to dodge the charges.

      #3; Mon, 02 Feb 2009 22:25:00 GMT
    • .criminallaw.todaysummary.com.jk

      I agree...the best way to fight this charge is to seek treatment BEFORE you go to court...judges tend to be more sympathetic to people that know they have a problem and seek help

      #4; Mon, 09 Feb 2009 07:00:00 GMT