Bank robbery and the addictions that may lead to crime

There are many misconceptions about people who commit bank robberies, including that they are doing it for the money or as part of a professional heist. Many people in the criminal justice field feel that bank robbers and anyone who commits theft does so because he or she is addicted to stealing and that the addiction is just as powerful as it would be for any drug. This is the exact reason why some robbers will continue to steal until they are caught.

If this is true, should someone who is caught stealing in Minneapolis be held criminally liable? If he or she cannot control his or her behavior, if the need to steal overwhelms, much like any physical addiction would, should he or she be treated the same as someone who consciously commits an act? Are crimes like theft or bank robbery on the same level as something as heinous as premeditated murder? Some would say it is, but the story of one former police officer may give some people in Minnesota pause to reconsider.

After wanting to be a police officer his whole life, one man was forced to quit after two years because of some trouble he was having with addictive substances. He managed to stay clean for nearly 15 years, however, until one day in 1995 he stole $29 from an open register. Since then, he committed six more robberies, several from banks. Even though he was arrested, convicted and served time for many of these robberies, he would go back to stealing again and again after he was released.

It is clear that not every individual who commits a robbery or steals from a store is an addict, but many can be. It is important that before anyone is convicted of theft, the judge and jury adequately consider whether the thefts were completely within the control of the suspect.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Ex-cop turned bank robber is a suspect again,” Dan Sullivan, Oct. 14, 2012

Bank robbery is just one form of felony theft charges that we work with in our practice. Find out more by stopping by our felonies page.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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