It’s no surprise that certain crimes spike around the holidays. Increased alcohol consumption, as well as financial and emotional stress, sometimes cause people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Like drink too much and then drive, or get into a fight with a loved one, or shoplift. Unfortunately, a poor decision now can have an impact long after the holidays are over. Here’s a look at five common holiday crimes that can turn Christmas cheer into holiday tears.
→ Driving While Intoxicated
During the holiday season, there is no shortage of celebrations and parties where libations flow freely. Police often step up DWI enforcement during this time of year, putting more officers on the roads and implementing No-Refusal programs. To be sure, police will be looking for any reason to stop motorists, like having a taillight out or failing to use a turn signal.
A DWI arrest can ruin an otherwise festive evening. It’s important to make a plan to get home safely before the festivities start. Lining up a DD, calling a cab, renting a hotel room, or contacting Uber, Lyft or SoberRides.org are all good options for those who plan to imbibe outside their home over the holidays. If you do get pulled over and have been drinking, remember your rights – including your right to remain silent and your right to refuse sobriety tests.
When people can’t afford to buy their loved ones’ gifts or provide a special holiday meal, they sometimes resort to shoplifting. They may rationalize their actions by thinking taking a doll for Little Susie for Christmas is much different than, say, stealing a shirt for a party. Of course, there are also people who shoplift to fill some sort of emotional void or for the thrill of it. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to remember that retailers hire extra staff or security guards over the holiday season, which increases the shoplifter’s chance of getting caught. Common items people shoplift over the holidays include:
- Electronics and accessories, including cell phones, cases, headphones
- Designer clothing and accessories
- Perfume and cologne
- Children’s toys
- Gourmet chocolate or candy
If you are contemplating shoplifting, it’s important to keep in mind that you won’t be able to provide for or help your loved ones at all if you’re locked up. If you are struggling to provide for your family or friends over the holidays, there are a number of organizations that can help, such as the Salvation Army, the Goodfellow Fund and Toys For Tots.
→ Family Violence
Family gatherings can bring out the best in people, but they also may bring out bad memories or experiences that could lead to heated arguments and physical altercations between loved ones. Money problems and alcohol often exacerbate the situation. It is not uncommon for people to be arrested for getting into a physical confrontation with a family member over the holidays, such a child, spouse, or in-law. Oftentimes, when cooler heads prevail the next day, the alleged victim wants the charges dropped, but it’s not that easy. In fact, many prosecutor’s offices have a “no drop” police when it comes to cases alleging assault family violence.
It’s important to understand that allegations of family violence are incredibly serious even at the lowest levels, which can range from a Class C ticket all the way up to a first-degree felony. Try and keep stress in check during the holidays and avoiding “snapping” at others. Think before you speak or walk away if you feel your anger rising. Refrain or cut back on drinking.
→ Package Theft
You can’t turn on the news during the holidays without hearing of another incident of package theft. This seems to have become the crime du jour over the holidays. Swiping packages off porches or doorsteps is a crime of opportunity, but it can carry serious penalties – both at the state and federal level. For example, mail theft — taking a letter, a package delivered by mail carrier, or a package left in a designated area — could lead to a fine and hard time in prison. These days, more porch pirates are getting caught and arrested due to the implementation of surveillance cameras and bait packages with GPS trackers.
Packages sitting on a door steps can be tempting, but think about the consequences of getting caught stealing. Spending the holidays in handcuffs is not fun, plus the amount you will likely pay to bond out of jail and hire an attorney to defend you is probably a lot more than the unknown contents of a box.
Home and car burglaries typically increase during the holidays. Shopping bags or gifts left in vehicles can be tempting for an opportunistic thief. Likewise, a beautifully decorated tree in front of a window with presents all around attracts more than just children. Burglaries this time of year are often of the smash-and-grab variety. Burglary charges can be very serious – no matter what time of year – leading to steep fines and possible jail time. Not to mention, homeowners have the right to protect their property, including using deadly force. Many burglars have found out the hard way that the risk did not outweigh the reward.
If you or a loved one is arrested over the holiday season, contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Our team of Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience and an exceptional record of success. We can help you navigate this difficult time. Call today for a complimentary strategy session. During this call we will:
- Discuss the facts of your criminal case;
- Discuss the legal issues involved, including the consequences of the allegation; and
- Discuss the defenses that apply and, in general terms, discuss our approach to your situation.