Criminal Charges Common at Christmas
A number of factors that arise during the holidays—the increased stress many people feel, the greater consumption of alcohol, the many opportunities—customarily leads to an escalation in certain types of arrests. Here are some of the more typical criminal offenses that police departments across the country see surge from mid-December through New Years Day.
- Drinking and driving — Christmas parties and family get-togethers often include liquid holiday cheer, leading to a significant increase in traffic stops for driving under the influence or driving while impaired or intoxicated. It’s fairly common for police to have more officers on the roads during the holiday season, or to set up sobriety checkpoints on specific occasions, such as Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
- Domestic violence or abuse — The stress of Christmas, particularly when finances are tight or other external factors make life difficult, can increase tensions and create situations ripe for violence. In addition, simply having more people together can increase the potential for frustration and disagreement. Statistics indicate that, though calls to domestic violence hotlines may go down slightly during the holidays, domestic abuse is still a serious problem around the holidays.
- Theft crimes — The pressures that a consumer culture puts on people during the holidays can drive some to illegal acts, including shoplifting, vehicle break-ins, identity theft, shopping scams and package theft. The convenience of online shopping translates to millions of packages outside homes and businesses nationwide, with a resulting spike in the theft of packages off a porch or doorstep. The growth of online shopping has also fueled an increase in the theft of credit card and other financial information. Experian reports that nearly half of all holiday identity theft happens online. Authorities also warn consumers to tread carefully when shopping online, as many cloned or bogus websites exist. Consumers should also be wary of receiving text messages confirming orders or shipping, with links that need to be clicked. Most of those are scams seeking access to personal information.
- Burglary — As families and friends gather at the holidays, many homes are left vacant, making them a prime target for a break-in. Leaving a car in the driveway and having lights on timers can minimize that risk.
- Airport contraband — With the increased travel during the holidays, the arrests for bringing or carrying illegal items on an aircraft also rise. The most common charges involve possession of firearms or weapons, or possession of a controlled substance. Though many states have legalized marijuana, it is still a federal offense to possess cannabis. If you attempt to take those marijuana gummies to Grandma’s house, you might spend Christmas in the cooler.
- Vandalism — There’s always a grinch somewhere. Police report a significant number of arrests during the holiday season for theft or destruction of Christmas decorations, Christmas lights and even Christmas trees.
- Counterfeiting — Government officials say there’s customarily a rise the amount of counterfeit currency flowing into the economy during the holiday season, almost entirely at retail establishments
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