The holidays are upon us, and along with Christmas trees and candy canes comes a change in common crimes committed by common criminals. Grab a cup of egg nog and join us around the fireplace as we examine some of the more common crimes in the holiday season.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most prevalent charges during the holiday season. The common fact pattern involves a defendant leaving the office party after a few drinks. Rather than making the wise decision of taking a rideshare or taxi home, the defendant chooses to roll the dice and drive himself home.
On the drive home the defendant is often spotted by law enforcement for driving erratically or simply making a minor traffic infraction. The officer approaches the car and notices the aroma of alcoholic drink, and the defendant appears glassy eyed and slurs his speech when responding to the officer. One field sobriety test later and the defendant finds himself handcuffed and headed to jail. While plenty of Floridians unfortunately choose to drive while intoxicated, mistakes do happen that lead to an innocent driver facing this serious charge.
New Year’s Day is a time for celebration, but it is also often a time for conflict, as that holiday typically marks an increase in assault. Parties during this holiday usually last late into the night, and alcohol consumption is typically high. A wrong word or misinterpreted gesture can lead to misunderstanding and violence, resulting in an assault charges. However, misidentifications can occur in the confusion, leading to innocent people facing assault charges as well.
The holidays are lonely times for some people, leading many to pay for illegal companionship. Prostitution and other sex crimes spike during the Christmas and New Years season, and so do stings by law enforcement. Trysts are frequently scheduled online now, which is an area that has seen particular attention from law enforcement. As nuance in language is often difficult to convey in text, law enforcement have misinterpreted intent and accused innocent people of prostitution and other sex crimes.
Arson is another serious crime that increases around Christmas. Statistics show that people use the cover of a dry tree or a candelabra to intentionally burn down houses and other structures, with estimates that up to one in five house fires during the holidays is intentionally set. Incendiary or suspicious fires are the most common cause of structure fires this time of year, and arson is one of the most difficult crimes to investigate. Often a lack of evidence leads to erroneous conclusions, and innocent people are arrested and charged with arson.
Another common holiday crime is shoplifting. Although fewer people are out shopping this year than in others, stores are more crowded than usual, providing cover for those who seek to steal. Unfortunately, store personnel can make mistakes in identifying those they witness shoplifting, and shoppers often legitimately neglect to pay for items before leaving the store. Shoplifting is a serious crime, and definitely not one you would like to have appear on a background check.