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Defending theft crimes – a look beyond the legal system

Theft crimes often have a mental health connection. Studies have shown that addictive/compulsive behaviors like those present in substance abuse cases are often seen in those who compulsively commit theft crimes such as shoplifting. For others, there may be some traumatic event that contributes to the urge to steal. Recognizing that theft is not just a legal issue changes the focus to a holistic approach in the defense of this criminal charge.

Competing considerations

Obviously, anyone facing theft charges is concerned about mounting an aggressive defense to minimize the legal consequences that are possible following an arrest. That is where the assistance of a criminal defense attorney is critical. A lawyer has the knowledge and skill necessary to protect your legal rights and the ability to vigorously fight criminal charges. The legal considerations – if considered by themselves – can be adequately handled by most criminal attorneys.

Where some criminal attorneys fail their clients is by not examining the motives, needs or underlying issues that might have provoked the client to commit the crime.

For example, most individuals who shoplift don’t do it because they are financially destitute. Often theft or embezzlement crimes are necessitated by underlying feelings of inadequacy, anger, stress or anxiety. The crime is not committed because of an unfulfilled material need. A defense approach that only addresses the legal consequences is an incomplete one. The underlying issues that contributed to the criminal act will continue long after the criminal case is concluded. If the underlying issues aren’t addressed, the likelihood of future offenses is much greater.

On the other hand, if only the mental health issues are examined, then the unaddressed criminal consequences could overshadow any treatment progress that is accomplished.

Thinking holistically

An approach that addresses both the legal consequences flowing from an arrest and exploring the mental health contributors that led to the theft is critical. This approach will not only serve a client in the short-term (reduced consequences for the illegal behavior), but will also put the client in the best position to avoid future legal issues. By helping the client get the mental health treatment that explains what causes him or her to shoplift, an attorney can offer the difference between a bright future for his client rather than one marred by repeated run-ins with the criminal justice system.

Are you facing charges for shoplifting or another type of theft charge? Do you want to increase your chances of a successful defense that both helps minimize legal consequences and gets you the help you need? Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area for more information about your legal rights and options you may have.

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