Do the Courts Care if My Kid is a Klepto? (Shoplifting & Employee Theft)
As an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney, I have learned that certain crimes tend to occur with more frequency during the holiday season. Shoplifting and employee theft are two of those crimes. According to a recent report released by Checkpoint Systems (known as The Global Retail Theft Barometer), American consumers steal more than $13 billion annually. As an interesting side note, the Theft Barometer will also tell you what items are most commonly stolen, with alcohol and makeup being the top two.
Over the past two and a half decades, I have represented shoplifting clients from all age groups. I have defended pre-teens and teens in juvenile court. In the adult courts, I have represented college students; hard-working thirty and forty-year-olds; and an interesting array of retired individuals. Some of these clients claim that the current case is the first time that they ever attempted to steal. Others will openly brag that they have shoplifted for decades and cannot believe they were finally caught.
Because so few family members want to accept that someone they love is truly a thief, I am often asked to have a forensic psychiatrist assess a client for kleptomania. Although kleptomania is not a legal defense to a theft charge in Arizona, it may prove extremely useful in eliminating certain consequences, such as jail time. This is especially true for repeat offenders.
From a diagnostic and therapeutic standpoint, kleptomania is different from shoplifting. Shoplifters tend to pre-plan their crimes and target specific items they need or desire – especially during the holidays. A true kleptomaniac, on the other hand, has a serious mental health disorder and will spontaneously take things that he or she does not need or even want. Not surprisingly, kleptomaniacs tend to experience additional mental health struggles. According to the Mayo Clinic website www.mayoclinic.org, compulsive shopping, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse disorders are also common in individuals with kleptomania.
In Arizona, shoplifting can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on a number of factors. In addition to significant fines and jail time, a shoplifting conviction can also detrimentally affect a person’s future employability. As a result, if you or a loved one is ever arrested for shoplifting, please contact our office immediately at (480) 833-2341 to speak with an experience criminal defense lawyer.