It’s Time for Holiday Cheer and… an Increase in Crime?
December 22, 2021 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense Social Share
Many of us have the movie, Home Alone, where eight-year-old Kevin McCallister has to defend his home from a pair of burglars, on our list of favorite holiday movies. However, most of us wouldn’t associate the holiday season with an increase in crime. Unfortunately, there is a spike in criminal activity during the holiday season. According to the Criminal Victimization Survey of 2019, personal larceny and robbery increase by approximately 20 percent during the month of December. Although there’s no definitive answer to why this occurs, financial difficulty as the year comes to a close and an increase in people buying expensive items to gift are likely the culprits. In addition, DUI and domestic violence crimes also increase during what is often deemed ‘the greatest time of year’.
Individuals charged with theft during the holiday season often commit the crime within a store, also known as shoplifting, however, others, known as “porch bandits’ or “porch pirates” steal packages from people’s porches. As ordering merchandise online has become increasingly popular in the last few years, this, unfortunately tends to be a common occurrence, leading many homeowners to purchase and install security cameras by their front door to catch these individuals in the act. Theft crimes fall under Section 812.014 of the Florida Statutes and the penalties in Florida are determined by the value of the items stolen. For example, if you stole an item that costs less than $100, you will be charged with second-degree petty theft, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. If you would like to read more about the penalties for different kinds of theft, you can do so here.
Furthermore, because so many people skip the store lines and instead order merchandise online during the holiday season, they face a greater threat of identity theft since they are likely inputting their personal information on multiple websites. According to Section 817.568 of the Florida Statutes, identity theft is defined as the willful and unauthorized fraudulent use or possession with intent to fraudulently use another person’s personal identification information without first obtaining that person’s consent. In addition, scammers will take advantage of consumers’ desire to get bargains during the holiday months, which is why it is imperative you do not click on links from unrecognized senders and ensure you are on a retailer’s official website when making an online purchase. If you would like to read more about the crime of identity theft and the penalties associated with it, you can do so here.
The holidays and alcohol go hand in hand for many people, resulting in fatal accidents and DUI arrests. Under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes, a DUI charge requires a showing that, at the time of the incident, the person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point that the person’s normal faculties were impaired. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the Christmas and New Year’s period of 2018, there were 285 drunk driving-related fatalities. In addition, according to a survey of 2,000 Americans in 2018, “the average US adult was found to double their intake of booze between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.” As a result of these alarming statistics, law enforcement agencies in Florida increase their DUI checkpoints in the hopes of cracking down on holiday-related DUI accidents. Considering Florida has some of the strictest laws in the nation regarding drinking and driving, it is absolutely imperative you take the appropriate precautions to avoid a DUI offense, such as having a designated driver, using a ridesharing app, having overnight plans, or simply remaining sober. If you would like to read more about the crime of DUI and the penalties associated with it, you can do so here.
Domestic violence is defined under Section 741.28 of the Florida Statutes as any instance of assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member. Although domestic violence crimes vary, they will likely result in a felony, or a misdemeanor charge based on the level of the underlying crime. Generally, it is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, one year of probation, and up to a $1,000 fine. The increase in domestic violence during the holiday season is an unfortunate reality, but why is that the case? Heightened physical and financial stress, especially in the last few years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, is one factor. In addition, the time off from work, social gatherings, and parties that are part of the holiday season lead to increased substance and alcohol abuse. Many people also turn to alcohol or other substances as coping mechanisms to get through the holidays. As a result of such abuse, domestic violence can unfortunately occur. If you would like to read more about domestic violence and the penalties associated with it, you can do so here.
Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney
The holidays can be an exciting and joyous time, but merry can turn to scary really quick when faced with theft, DUI, or domestic violence charges. If you or a loved one has been charged with any of these crimes, contact an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team of Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of criminal defense experience and will explore every possible defense applicable to your case. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to discuss your case during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.
This article was written by Sarah Kamide