Did bipolar disorder lead to your financial crimes?

Fraud, embezzlement, Ponzi schemes and other white collar crimes are usually tied to a financial motive. Defendants are often accused of being arrogant and greedy – but they may really be suffering from a serious mental illness.

If you or your loved one has been charged with a white collar crime, is it possible that an undiagnosed bipolar disorder was involved? You owe it to yourself or your loved one to consider the idea very carefully.

How can bipolar disorder lead to criminal activity?

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings, which can also lead to psychosis. On the low end of the spectrum, someone with bipolar disorder may be severely depressed – to the point where they can’t even function or get out of bed.

On the high end of the spectrum, victims of bipolar disorder become manic. They may start out with a “hypomania” phase that makes them feel euphoric and full of creative energy, but that can quickly spiral out of control as full-blown mania takes over. In the grip of a manic episode, victims of the disorder can:

  • Experience racing thoughts, incredible self-confidence and a decreased need for sleep
  • Have poor decision-making processes, that can lead to lavish spending sprees, risky sexual behavior, wild investment decisions and other chaotic behavior
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol either to try to control their symptoms or because they lack the self-control to stop

Studies have long associated bipolar disorder with criminal convictions. It’s not that people with bipolar disorder are inherently less law-abiding than other people. Instead, the impulsivity and lack of inhibition that characterize the manic phase of the disorder can simply lead to poor judgment and bad decisions.

Bipolar disorder can go undiagnosed for years, especially among people who have been largely successful in their endeavors – until things go too far and everything comes crashing down. Mental health issues are a mitigating factor in any criminal defense, so find out more if you think this is a possibility in your case.

FindLaw Network