Theft is perhaps the most common crime ever known. It can escalate into more serious property crimes from simple acts of taking something of low value. Sometimes the sense of accomplishment or satisfaction leads the thief to commit larger crimes. But what if the thief was motivated by another factor?
Understanding the link
Research has shown that addiction and theft are closely linked. One study shows that individuals with substance use disorders are significantly more likely to commit theft than those without it. Additionally, they were likelier to have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Addiction is a complex disease that affects an individual’s brain chemistry and behavior. Substance abuse can lead to compulsive drug-seeking behaviors, resulting in negative consequences. These after-effects may include financial difficulties, leading individuals struggling with addiction to steal money in order to purchase drugs or alcohol. In short, they commit theft to support their habits.
Using addiction as a criminal defense in theft cases
Individuals facing theft charges may be able to use addiction as a criminal defense in terms of the following:
- Diminished capacity: Addiction may be used as a defense to argue that the individual did not have the capacity to form the intent to commit the theft due to their addiction.
- Duress: If the individual was under duress to commit the theft, such as being threatened by a drug dealer or other individual, they might be able to argue that they were compelled to commit the theft due to their addiction.
- Rehabilitation: Individuals facing theft charges may be able to use their willingness to seek treatment and rehabilitation as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
However, it is still wise to work with a qualified criminal defense attorney to help develop an effective defense strategy against these charges.
Addiction is often a contributing factor to theft. Understanding the link between the two may help defend against theft charges, but it is not a guaranteed win. While addiction can be considered a mitigating factor in criminal cases, it is not an absolute defense that would result in an automatic acquittal.