The media likes to portray the holiday season as one of togetherness and selflessness. Holidays are advertised as a time of year when families come together and bond over communal activities like baking, shopping, and playing games. During the holidays, we strive to be the best versions of ourselves leading up to the New Year. Thanksgiving encourages us to pause and reflect on what we’re grateful for, and Christmas is a time for giving and helping others. These tropes make for feel-good media—but don’t always play out in real life.
Unfortunately, the holidays are often a major source of stress for many people, and those who are down on their luck might be especially vulnerable to succumbing to the stress. Year after year, the fall and winter months see a surge in criminal activity. Theft crimes occur more often, as do other offenses that can put others’ lives in danger. Below are the top criminal charges filed during the holiday season.
Driving Under the Influence
A streak of festivities between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Eve invites several opportunities for excessive alcohol consumption. Thanksgiving week is one of the year’s most “thirsty” holidays; in fact, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day is sometimes called “Blackout Wednesday,” since there is so much drinking involved.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 800 people died in car crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday between 2013 and 2017. There is the idea that drinking increases because many people are off from work, so they start celebrating early. The mass migration of college students to their homes on Thanksgiving may also contribute to excessive drinking.
During Thanksgiving week, law enforcement agencies are often out in full force to make DUI stops, which is why the number of arrests tends to spike at this time.
Reports of sex crimes like rape and sexual battery follow a pattern similar to DUI. The reasoning is that, the more people drink, the less capable they are of consenting. People who are not in the right mindset may make poor decisions and may not be able to give explicit consent. Alcohol impairs judgment and impulse control, meaning that assailants may be less inclined to use restraint when a situation gets heated.
Theft Crimes Spike During the Holidays
Probably the most common crimes during the holiday season involve crimes of theft. Burglary and shoplifting go up as people leave town for extended visits with family. People of all ages may be more inclined to shoplift in busy stores, where sales associates are spread thin and overworked. Stores may also have minimal security at this time in proportion to the increased volume of shoppers. Porch pirates are also active, as more people have packages delivered to their homes in preparation for Christmas and Hanukkah.
Identity theft is another crime that increases when people do more shopping. Charges for identity theft and fraud may be severe, since this offense often involves illegal activity across state lines or online. Identity thieves may use credit card skimmers to commit credit card fraud. These skimmers—often found at gas stations—record account numbers and other sensitive data. Data may also be stolen through phishing scams or malware. They then sell this information online to people looking to use the credit cards of unassuming victims. Sometimes, identity thieves commit other types of fraud or crimes assuming the victim’s name.
Domestic Violence Surges During the Holidays
The stress that often comes with the holidays can compound tensions between couples, and places victims of domestic violence at increased risk of an attack by their romantic partner. Additionally, more people take time off, so couples with strained relationships are spending more time together under the same roof.
Protect Your Rights this Holiday Season
We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, some mistakes are more serious than others and could cause us to be in a situation where we risk losing certain rights and freedoms. If you face criminal charges in West Palm Beach, you deserve quality representation. Call Brian Gabriel at The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at 561-622-5575, or complete our contact form. Attorney Brian Gabriel has more than 30 years of experience standing up for the rights of individuals who are criminally accused throughout Palm Beach and surrounding counties.