Kleptomania as a Criminal Defence/Pardon?

by SpencerK23 on October 21, 2013 - 11:07am


"Too bad they don't make Klepto Bismol: Woman arrested for stealing Silver Line inspector's bag says she couldn't help it". 

     This news article tells the story of a woman who was arrested for stealing an inspector's bag. When the woman was caught by the police dumping the stolen goods into the Fort Point Chanel moments later, she stated that "she couldn't help herself, that she is a Kleptomaniac". The controversial question that leaves many torn is whether or not Kleptomania is a valid excuse/pardon for stealing. If those who are accused of committing a crime can often get away or face different sentences by pleaing insanity or pleaing that a mental health illness or disorder was the cause, than why can't a thief use Kleptomania for a proper defense? Sure, in almost all cases those who plea insanity still must seek treatment, but many would rather to go to a mental institution for a period of time than be locked up in jail for likely a longer period of time. That being said, should a thief be able to plea that he/she suffers from Kleptomania and perhaps be sent for mental health aid instead of suffering the full consequence of the law?


Here is a link to the article: http://www.universalhub.com/2013/too-bad-they-dont-make-klepto-bismol-wo...



As one who does not suffer from Kleptomania and cannot relate to acts of Kleptomania, I find it hard to have a valid opinion. That being said, I am not sure whether it is empathy or what I believe in, but I do believe that if we can differentiate between Kleptomaniacs and Shoplifters/Theifs, than the criminal justice system should be able to dish out appropriate sentences. I believe that a true Kleptomaniac should be able to plea a mental disorder as a proper defence, and if not a defence than a criminal pardon after the fact. These beliefs are also situational, meaning that it depends on the severity of the case, person, and goods that are stolen.

I will have to agree with Spencer, depending on the severity of the case...Kleptomaniacs should be able to be treated instead of being sent to jail. I believe that it's evident to see the difference between a Kleptomaniac and a shoplifter desperate for goods. Kleptomania is a mental illness that is in the DSM diagnostic and it should very well be categorized as one in any situation. Like Spencer I do find it a touchy subject because they are many ways to look out. Although Spencer's point that they can easily tell the difference between a shoplifter and kleptomaniac is important because it can give someone the proper treatment they deserve and a shoplifter the proper sentence they deserve.

The very last sentence you wrote is an excellent way of differentiating between shoplifters and kleptomaniacs in regards to punishment and treatment. You stated that Kleptomaniacs should be treated whereas shoplifters should be sentenced in the court of law. I would have to agree, considering Kleptomania is an impulse control disorder that one simply cannot control and get a grasp of, these individuals cannot be fully liable for their actions. Shoplifters on the other hand are people who steal items of high monetary value or for personal use, not because they have urges but because they simply want the item but cannot afford it or aren't willing to fork over the money. Shoplifters, contrary to Kleptomaniacs, are able to control themselves but often do not want to, they do not suffer from urges and impulses, thus should be completely liable for their actions. It is for this very reason that shoplifters are considered thiefs and are dealt with through the criminal justice system.

About the author