criminal law


August 26, 2017



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Is kleptomania an acceptable defence in theft case?

Question: I'm an adult in my thirties and I have a problem with my desire to steal small items from shops, even if I don't need them. I have now been arrested for this and I'm worried about the outcome in court. My psychiatrist says that I have kleptomania, a condition where people feel a great urge to steal. Could I use this as an argument in court?

Answer: Yes, you may use this in court as a legal arguments, especially as article 60 of Law 3 of 1987 and its amendments, called the Penal Code, states: "A person shall not be criminally responsible if, at the time of crime, he was unconscious or out of his senses because of madness or mental handicap or because of unconsciousness caused by drugs, narcotics or intoxicants of any, whether given to him forcibly or taken by him unknowingly, or for any other cause which has been scientifically proven to obliterate comprehension or will". According to this, you could argue that you were not responsible for your actions because of your condition. The criminal court might refer you to an expert, who would be tasked with providing a medical report on your claims and whether you were aware of and able to control your actions at the time of committing the crime or not. If the report is in your favour, it should have a significant impact on the verdict. If it finds that you were partially conscious of your actions, that might have a partially positive impact on the verdict, meaning the sentence could be less severe than if you were fully conscious and accountable for the theft.


The United Arab Emirates abrogated the earlier Penal Code and issued a new law to govern crimes and penalties, called the Federal Decree-Law No. 31 of 2021 on the Issuance of Crimes and Penalties Law. The new Penal Code was issued on 20 September 2021 and came into force on 2 January 2022.

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