In total, 14% to 30 % of individuals with gambling disorder engage in illegal acts to finance such behavior. This clinical situation could be explained by higher gambling severity, associated substance use disorder, antisocial personality disorder and economic factors (debts, financial problems). The present work focuses, more broadly, on criminal responsibility of problematic gamblers.
We will discuss this question through different typical situations that medical experts of criminal responsibility may have to face. We will address each of the following cases: 1) isolated problematic gambling; 2) problematic gambling associated with antisocial personality disorder; 3) problematic gambling associated with a manic episode; 4) problematic gambling associated with substance use disorders; and 5) problematic gambling associated wiht dopamine agonist treatment.
Isolated problematic gambling, (not associated with any psychiatric or addictive disorder): it seems consensual that individuals committing infractions in this case are criminally responsible. However, impeded ability to action control and possible sentence attenuation could be discussed in case of severe gambling disorder. Problematic gambling associated with antisocial personality disorder: if the penal offence reports solely to personality disorder, criminal responsibility would be attributed. However, if illegal or violent acting is directly linked to co-cocurrent delusional symptoms, it could be a cause of criminal non-responsibility. Problematic gambling associated with manic episode: manic episode related offence could lead to negation of criminal responsibility, while a hypomanic episode may provide grounds for sentence reduction. Problematic gambling associated with substance use disorders: in France, addiction is not considered to remove nor to impede a person’s ability to understand or control his actions and is excluded from criminal non-responsibility causes. However, substance induced delusional or confusional episodes could abolish a subject’s discernment or his ability to control his actions yielding to penal non-responsibility. Problematic gambling associated with dopamine agonist treatment: Criminal responsibility for dopamine agonist induced gambling related illegal acts is still controversial. Nevertheless, people committing an infraction linked to associated dementia or dopamine agonist induced mania should be considered as criminally non-responsible.
Some clinical dimensions such as craving intensity, compulsivity, disorder’s severity, volitional control might be forensic targets to assess criminal responsibility.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.

References

PubMed