Question: I didn’t think my son would ever be arrested for shoplifting in Roswell, Georgia, but I think it had to do with his depression, not because he’s some type of thief.
He has money; in fact, he has a good job at a bank. I never expected to get a call from him asking me to bond him out of jail because of a shoplifting charge. But that’s exactly what happened the other night when he called and asked me to get him out of jail. Actually it was more like begged me to get him out of jail.
He was caught trying to steal some clothing. Again, he has a job; he makes decent money, so I don’t know why he needed to steal. He said that he’s actually lost money gambling and since he broke up with his girlfriend he has been depressed and that’s been affecting his behavior.
I don’t think he’s ever been arrested before, at least not that I know of. He was always great in school and went to Georgia Tech to study engineering before changing his major to economics and then going to graduate school at Duke University.
I think depression may have caused his criminal activity. And besides he stole like $200.00 worth of clothes. The clothes were just a shirt or two and some neckties by an Italian designer.
He put them in a bag he brought into the store and I think a security guard saw him do it and stopped him as he got to the door to leave. He didn’t try to run or anything and he cooperated and admitted what he had done.
I just want to know if we can use his depression as a defense to the shoplifting charge when we go to court at the Roswell Municipal Court. He’s seeing a therapist once a week.
S.A. in Roswell, GA
Answer: We would certainly make sure that the Roswell prosecutor understands that he is suffering from depression as a way of explaining his actions. Although it isn’t a legal defense to shoplifting, it does help explain what happened as well as elicit sympathy for a defendant.
Since the value of the goods allegedly stolen is less than $500.00, then it is classified as a misdemeanor under Georgia law, and the case can be handled in the Roswell Municipal Court.
Shoplifting has been proven by many studies to be a psychological issue for many people. It is rarely, if ever, about greed or poverty.
Depression is a factor found in many shoplifters. Interestingly, this is manifested by an inclination of shoplifters to steal from stores on their birthday and at holiday times.
Kleptomania, classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as an “Impulse Disorder,” is a more intense form of shoplifting.
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