What is kleptomania?

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2024 | Firm News

Thieves usually have a reason for doing it and plan ahead before they start. A person with kleptomania, however, often does not think things through before stealing. Instead, they take things belonging to someone else due to compulsive urges. Unfortunately, because stealing is against the law, someone with this disorder may occasionally run into trouble with the law.

Factors that contribute to kleptomania

Kleptomania, a rare mental disorder, causes individuals to experience a recurring impulse to steal and find relief during or following the act. Unlike thieves who steal to gain something valuable or useful, those with kleptomania do not take things for profit. Often, they steal items they do not need or could easily buy without any deliberate planning.

The root cause of kleptomania is still under research. However, researchers have identified a few factors that contribute to kleptomania, such as past traumatic experiences, existing mental illnesses, brain disorders and genetics. Additionally, irregularities in brain chemistry may impair impulse control, resulting in bad decisions.

Can kleptomania absolve theft charges?

When kleptomania drives a person to steal, they may wonder whether the disorder is a valid defense to avoid criminal charges. However, theft is theft. The court may not find kleptomania as justification for stealing.

Given its rarity, there must be confirmation from a mental health professional that the accused has been clinically diagnosed with kleptomania. A person who steals items for profit is unlikely to have the condition.

Still, courts strive to deliver justice while considering mental disorders. Individuals whose kleptomania leads them to theft may potentially receive a court order for rehabilitation and treatment instead of jail time.

Kleptomania presents unique challenges due to widespread misunderstanding. Those facing legal trouble related to the disorder may benefit from having a legal advocate. The right support system may help make coping with kleptomania while dealing with criminal charges more manageable.


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